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" Spread it then, 
And let it circulate through ev'ry vein 
Of all your empire ; that where Britain's power 
Is felt, mankind may feel her mercy too." 

The Tusk. 


1892. . 

Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Ayleslmry. 


I HAD certainly no intention of writing a book when I 
commenced to put together the information contained in 
these pages. All I purposed to do was to prepare a short 
report of work done. But I found that the interesting- 
material at hand was too abundant to be compressed within 
the limits I had originally intended. 

The need for a better knowledge, on the part of our 
English people generally, of the distant dependencies of 
the British Empire is undeniable, if they are to discharge 
at all intelligently the duty of governing the many races, 
which the circumstances of an ever-widening empire, and 
the extension of the parliamentary franchise, have placed 
in their hands. The story is told of a member of Parlia- 
ment who did not know Burma from Bermuda ; and as I 
have myself -found the very same confusion of the two 
places, in three separate instances, by gentlemen tliat 
might have been* thought fairly well educated, to say 
nothing of a respectable alderman who asked whether 
Burma was an island, and frankly admitted he was very 
ignorant about it, I can quite believe the story to be true. 



Not only is there a need for more knowledge of the 
countries and races we govern, there is also a demand for 
it. The events of recent years, especially those resulting 
from the annexation of King Theebaw's country, have 
drawn Burma into much closer touch with England ; and 
many peojole, by no means ignorant of Burma before, now 
feel a much deeper interest than formerly in all that 
pertains to that interesting country, whose destinies are 
henceforth so intimately bound up with our own. 

I have endeavoured to draw as faithful and accurate a 
picture as possible of the country and people, and I have 
tried to show, from the standpoint of a sympathetic but 
imj)artial witness, what the annexation of an Oriental 
country like Burma really means, what are its immediate 
results, and what are the many strong points and the few 
weak points in our rule. 

In seeking to raise the condition of a heathen people no 
remedy can be regarded as a substitute for the Gospel. We 
value civilisation very highly, with all that it implies in 
our case — in the way of good government, material pro- 
sperity, the amelioration of the conditions of life amongst 
the people, the progress of knowledge, and the introduction 
of the arts and conveniences of life — but the only true basis 
for the highest type of civilisation is the Gospel of Jesus 
Christ. The best instances of a civilisation without the 
Gospel are in the East, but even the civilisation of the East 
is, at its best, an arrested civilisation. Those races are 
"civilised but not enlightened"; they always stop short 
of that capacity for constant progress which characterises 
only the nations that have embraced the Gospel ; and they 
achieve that capacity when they have embraced it. Hence 


the carrying on of evangelistic work in Burma is a matter 
of great importance, and my earnest desire is that this little 
work may do its humble part in deepening that prayerful 
interest upon which missionary effort depends for its 
support and continuance. 

In addition to those authors that I have consulted on 
Burma, and have quoted here and there in the course ot 
this work, I would especially mention my indebtedness to 
that most appreciative and sympathetic observer of the 
Burman, Mr. J. G. Scott (Shway Yoe), whose work, in two 
volumes, entitled The Burman : his Life and Notions, gives 
perhaps the best and most complete account of the Burmese 
people that has yet appeared. I have availed myself of his 
extensive information to confirm or supplement my own in 
points where it is obvious that four years was not a long 
enough period upon which to form a reliable judgment. 

W. 11. Winston. 








MANDALAY IN 1887 20 


















































PEOPLE" . . . 117 






















THE annexation of Upper Burma on January 1st, 1886, opened 
up to England a large and valuable addition to her foreign 
possessions, whilst it perceptibly widened the ever-increasing area 
of her responsibilities, both political and moral. Including the 
Shan States tributary to the kingdom of Burma, the annexa- 
tion added to Lower oi", as it was then called, British Burma, 
a territory as large as France, thus making all Burma a compact 
province of our Indian Empire, as large as France and Great 
Britain together, and bringing British India right up to the 
frontiers of China. 

The resources of Burma are very considerable. Its mineral 
wealth includes gold and silver, iron and tin ; its mines of rubies 
and sapphires are noted all over the world ; its coal and earth- 
oil are likely to prove of great value ; jade, a gieen stone much 
prized in China and Japan for the manufacture of bracelets and 
trinkets, is found in large quantities in Upper Burma, and amber 
is met with in the northern parts of the country. As the country 
and its productions become opened up, these treasures are sure 
to receive the attention they deserve. 

The soil of Burma is generally very fertile, and with its 
diversified elevation and climate of mountain, plain and tableland, 
almost every variety of tropical productions can be grown, as well 

1 1 



as many belonging to the temperate zone. Lower Buima, espe- 
cially the great delta of the Irrawadcly, affords unrivalled scope 
and suitable climate for the growth of rice, the staple food of 
so large a part of the human race. The area under cultivation 
for rice in Lower Burma is 4,339,000 acres, and for other crops 
474,000 acres, and besides all local consumption, there is the 
enormous total annual export of rice by sea of 1,145,000 tons. 

The dry climate and rich soil of Upper Burma render it more 
suitable for the growth of wheat, maize, cotton, and many native 
grains, vegetables and fruits than for rice. On the mountains 
indigenous tea is grown, is manufactured by natives, and can 
be bought in any bazaar. Burma is the chosen home of the 
teak, that prince among timber trees. The reserved forests 
are under the care of a Government Department for forest 
conservation, and are the property of the Crown. They cover 
an area of several thousand square miles, and yielded in the year 
1889-90, 200,074 tons of teak, beside other valuable timbers and 
forest productions, including indiarubber and cutch. Cutcli is 
the common commercial name for a product of the Acacia 
Catechu tree, very valuable as a dye. These forests brought 
into the public revenue, when all expenses were paid, a net 
surplus of 3,388,400 rupees for the year 1889-90. The export 
of teak timber, chiefly for the European market, amounted 
to 184,431 tons, and the average value was about ,£10 a ton. 
Thus Burma is already a country of great material wealth, with 
vast possibilities of growth and development. 

According to the census of 1891 the population of Burma, 
including the Shan States, is 8,098,014. This total is made up 
as follows : — 

Lower Burma with an area of 87,957 sq. mis., population 4,658,627 
Upper Burma „ „ 83,478 „ „ „ 3,OG;5,426 
yiian States „ „ 40,000 „ „ „ 375,961 


With regard to the population of the towns, Mandalay stands 
first with 188,815. Next to this is Rangoon, the capital and 



the seat of Government, with 180,324; Maulmein has 56,000. 
The rest of the towns are considerably smaller. 

The population of Burma is scanty in proportion to its area 
and resources ; in fact, population is the great requisite for the 
development of the country. The quickening touch of British 
rule and commerce is effecting much in the direction of supplying 
this need. Every district, without exception, in Lower Burma 
shows an increase in the hist ten years, an increase of 22 per 
cent, on the whole. The Indian Government is disposed to make 
the rich province of Burma an outlet for the congested popula- 
tions of some of the provinces of India, and the great steamer 
companies are accomplishing this by conveying many hundreds 
of natives every week fiom the Indian ports to Rangoon, thereby 
enriching themselves, enriching Burma, and giving to these people 
a sphere and a chance in life, where their humble energies may 
receive their due reward. It is in manifold ways like this that 
civilisation and a firm and enlightened rule bestow such blessings 
on these teeming Oriental populations. The number of these 
immigrants from India into Kangoon, the chief seaport of Burma, 
during 1890 was 86,609. Owing to the customs of the natives 
of India, and their reluctance to break entirely away from home 
and country, there were in that year 65,055 who returned to 
India. This leaves a balance of over 20,000 for the year, which 
may represent approximately that very welcome addition to its 
population which Burma receives from India year by year. 
Rangoon itself is largely Indian in population, and Indians are 
to be found all over the country in great numbers. 

Both Upper and Lower Burma have yet large tracts of waste 
land, unoccupied territory that would well repay cultivation, and 
it is to be hoped that an agricultural population will be attracted 
from India. Should the railway system of Burma, now being 
rapidly developed, be united to that of India, that will no doubt 
be brought about in course of time. As the price of labour, 
roughly speaking, is 100 per cent, more than it is in India, and 
as the cost of living is not more than 50 per cent, higher, the 
balance is decidedly in favour of the immigrant. 

Burma is watered by magnificent rivers. Chief of these is the 



Iri'awaddy, with Kangoon near its mouth, and chief among its 
tributaries is the Chindwin. Both these rivers are great arteries 
of trade, being navigated not only by great numbers of the quaint- 
looking Burmese vessels, but by the large and powerful steamers 
of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, which, since 1867, has been 
trading on these rivers. Their steamers now ply regularly several 
times a w^eek up the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, 500 miles, and 
even as far as Bhamo, some 250 miles farther, and up the 
Chindwin as far as Kendat. These steamers are splendidly built 
of steel, with flat bottom, and lower and upper deck, with ample 
accommodation both for saloon and deck passengers, and are 
fitted throughout with the electric light. Some of them will 
carry considerably over a thousand passengers besides cargo. 

Historically Upper Burma is a land of great interest. It was 
all that remained of the once powerful Burmese empire, which 
in the early part of this century was strong enough to menace 
our Indian territory, and extended from Siam, in the south, to 
the confines of Bengal, in the north, and from China to the Bay 
of Bengal. 

Each of the three Burmese wars has arisen in a similar way, 
and has been marked by the same features on the part of the 
Burmese Government, — viz., an unwillingness to listen to reason, 
with much bluster and ignorant self-sufficiency at the outset, 
and iufeiior military qualities in the performance, — and each has 
resulted in the annexation of some part of the kingdom to British 
territory. Arakan and Tenasserim were acquired by treaty after 
the first Burmese war in 1824-26 ; the province of Pegu was 
occupied and retained, consequent on the second war in 1852-53 ; 
this gave us the command of the Irrawaddy, with Kangoon for 
a seaport; the third and last war, in 1885, took away all that 
remained of Burmese ride, and the kingdom of Burma became a 
thing of the past. 

Much may be said against war in the abstract, and against 
wars of this description in particular. It would be easy to repre- 
sent such a war as this, so far away from England, as aggressive 
and unjustifiable. I am no advocate for war of any kind, and 
I am not anxious to defend this action of England in conquering 



and annexing the last remnant of the Biirman kmgdom. But I 
can see that a question of this kind is not to be so summarily 
settled as may appear on the face of it. 

England long ago embarked in India on a career of empire, 
prompted rather by the force of circumstances than of set purpose ; 
and now it often seems difficult to decide when to go forward and 
where to stop. I will not attempt to unravel this tangled skein, 
but will merely say that, leaving aside the questions of how 
England came by her vast power and influence in the East, and 
whether she ought ever to extend it, and if so under what cir- 
cumstances, it seems to me that ultimately and finally the verdict 
must turn on the use she makes of this unique position, and 
what she accomplishes with her unrivalled opportunities in the 
material, intellectual, social and moral advancement of the many 
races and nations that she rules or protects. 

Coming now to the immediate causes of the Buimese war of 
1885, tlie following is the official account of them from the Britisli 
standpoint : — 

" Complaints against the Burmese Government meanwhile 
multiplied, British subjects suffered insult and violence at the 
hands of local officials, and no redress could be obtained. Trade 
monopolies were created in defiance of the express terms of tlie 
Treaty of 1867. The disorganisation of Upper Burma infected 
with disorder the adjacent districts of the British province. 
Negotiations were carried on by the Burmese Government for 
the purpose of contracting close alliances with other European 
countries, to the studied neglect of England. These causes had 
contributed to make the situation very unsatisfactory to the 
British Government, but were not such as to demand active 
interference. A casus belli arose, however, out of a specific act 
of the Burmese Government, who raised a large claim, amounting 
to several lakhs of rupees, against the Bombay-Burma Trading 
Corporation, a company of merchants, mainly British subjects, 
who had a large business in Upper Burma. In view of the 
magnitude of the claim, and of the interests of British subjects 
involved, mediation was attempted by the British authorities in 
order to ensure an impartial investigation. The mediation was 



ignored; and the company, without being allowed reasonable 
opportunity for defending themselves, w^ere condemned by the 
Burmese' Council to be mulcted to the amount of 2,300,000 rupees. 
The British Government protested against this arbitrary act; 
and their demand to have the proceedings stayed until the matter 
had been referred to an arbitrator was peremptorily refused. It 
was on this refusal that the British Government decided to send 
to the King of Burma an ultimatum, which should be designed 
to adjust once for all the relations between the two countries. 
The ultimatum required the king not only to suspend proceedings 
against the corporation, and to receive an envoy with a view to 
the settlement of the matter at issue, but also for the future to 
permit the residence at Mandalay of a British agent, who should 
be treated with due respect. It w^as added, too, that the external 
relations of Burma should in future be regulated in accordance 
with the advice of the British Government, and that facilities 
should be given for opening up trade with China. This ultimatum 
was dispatched on Octo])er 22nd, 1885, and a satisfactory reply 
was demanded l)y November 10th. On November 9th the reply 
was received, containing an absolute refusal of the proposed 
terms. Moreover, on November 7th a proclamation had been 
issued by the King of Burma, calling on his subjects to rally 
round him, that he might annihilate these heretic foreigners, 
and conquer and annex their country. The ultimatum had thus 
led to war. The expeditionary force, already prepared, crossed 
the frontier on November 14th, and within a fortnight from 
that day Mandalay had been occupied by General Prendergast 
and his troops, and the king was a prisoner. The only serious 
resistance met with had been at Minhla."' 

Such were the events leading up to the war. The demands of 
the British Government seem not unreasonable, but the stubborn 
folly of the King of Burma refused them. One cannot but 
regret that the resources of modern civilisation have as yet esta- 
blished no alternative in such a case of a petty Oriental monarch 
and a great power like England but an ultimatum and war. 
King Theebaw was such a ruler that it was in vain to think of 
reinstating him no other likely ruler was to be found ; annexa- 



tion was the only way to meet the case. The king was removed 
to India with his family, his retinue, and his chief astrologer, 
and there he has been in gilded seclusion ever since. On January 
1st, 1886, the proclamation was made that Upper Burma was 
annexed to our Eastern possessions, and the fact came home to 
the British mind that a large, valuable, interesting country was 
now open to British enterprise and incorporated with our Indian 

To the Christian j^ublic of England the announcement of the 
annexation came as a call to duty in regard to the spread of the 
Gospel amongst a people who had long been suiTering from a cruel 
and tyrannical ruler. From time immemorial the palace of the 
Burman rulers, chiefly owing to the general practice of polygamy 
on the part of the kings, and the consequent troops of queens and 
princes and princesses, has been the scene of much intrigue and 
corruption, and occasional bloodshed and revolution. Absolute 
monarchy is almost inseparable from occasional acts of cruelty 
and tyranny, even if just and kind in the main. Bat a weak 
ruler with an insecure title, like the last of the Burmese kings, 
cannot afford to be lenient, and is more likely to be cruel than a 
stronger man would be. The disorders of the reign of King 
Theebaw had made a deep impression on the English mind. He 
had gained tlie throne by a court intrigue, for he was not the 
rightful heir, so that he had to keep by foi'ce what he had got by 
fraud. The result was the massacre of about seventy of the 
royal family, who were put to death as possible rivals of the new 
king. That was in 1879, but a greater massacre occurred in 
1884, when, owing to the intrigues of certain Burman officials, 
an attack was made upon the jails of Mandalay, and over three 
hundred persons were put to death, including some inoffensive 

As a very striking proof of the fact that the country was in a 
most wretched state, bordering on anarchy, by reason of mis- 
government, extortion, bad trade and dacoity, it may be mentioned 
that in a few years no less than ten thousand people of Upper 
Burma had crossed the border and taken up their abode in British 
Burma, in order to escape oppression, and live in security under 



a more beneficent rule. The tide of population has since the 
annexation been flowing back to Upper Burma. 

Naturally much interest was felt in England over the altered 
condition of things, and thousands of Englishmen, on seeing the 
news of the annexation, felt that no time should be lost in secur- 
ing to the Upper Burmans the liberty of British subjects, and 
that security to person and property enjoyed by all who are under 
British rule ; and many felt, above all things, that it was a call to 
give them the Gospel. 



IT was in the month of January 1887 that I left Calcutta, in 
company with my old friend and former colleague, the Rev. 
J. Brown, of Calcutta, for Burma. We were on a prospecting 
expedition with a view to the establishment of a Mission in 
Upper Burma. On reaching Rangoon we were cordially received 
by the members of the American Baptist Mission, and sj^ent a 
few days there. Rangoon is one of the most remarkable cities 
in the East for rapid growth and commercial prosperity. It was 
only after the second Burmese war in 1852-53 that it became 
British territory. Since then it has grown to be a city of 180,324 
inhabitants. This population is by no means all Burman, but 
is largely English and Eurasian, Indian and Chinese. Its rail- 
ways, steam tramways, public buildings, sawmills, ricemills, the 
shipping at anchor in the river, its banks, warehouses, public 
buildings and shops, at once proclaim it the busy capital of Burma, 
and in all probability a place destined to see a still greater and 
more prosperous future as the resources of the country develop. 

After a day or two spent in Rangoon and a visit to Toungoo, 
we proceeded by rail to Prome, which is some 150 miles from 
Rangoon, and there we embarked on the Irrawaddy by one of 
the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company's splendid river steamers for 
Mandalay. It was then a time of great demand for transport, 
on account of the military operations for the pacification of Upper 
Burma, so that there were, in addition to a large number of 
Burman and Indian passengers, many military men coming and 




going. On that occasion we had over a thousand passengers 
on board. Not long after leaving Prome we passed what was 
formerly the British frontier station and port of Thayetmyo. 
Henceforth the contrast between the trim neatness of the towns 
under British rule and those of the Upper country was sufficiently 
apparent ; and for many a long day after, the frequent sound of 
the bugle, and after dark the challenge of the sentries, together 
with the very warlike state of the news, and the constant sight 
of soldiers and police, always fully armed, and of gangs of dacoits 
being brought in manacled, kept us in mind of the fact that we 
had come to a land where the security of life and property we 
were accustomed to was only in course of being established. 

Towards sunset we reached Minhla, on the right bank of the 
Irraw^addy ; and as we made fast for the night right opposite, we 
had time before it was dark to step ashore and climb the precipi- 
tous bank and look over the redoubt, the taking of which was 
the only action worth mentioning in the expedition. It is a 
square-built stone fort, and was well manned witli Bui-mese troops. 
The Ih'itish force went round by the jungle, and got to the 
back of the fort, where there was a way leading up to the 
ramparts; and having fought their way up to the summit, the 
Burmans inside were at their mercy, as the machine guns in 
the armed steamers on the river covered tlie exit by the front. 
Thus the place was taken. 

Next morning saw us steaming away again up the river. The 
scenery varies much. Now the banks of the river are flat, 
showing the country for miles, and again high banks and rolling 
hills diversify the scene. Farther up, near Bhamo, in the defiles, 
the mighty river has forced its way between high mountains 
which rise suddenly from the water's edge, and the scenery there 
is majestic. Numbers of villages and small towns are seen on 
the banks of the river, for here, as elsewhere, the fresh water of 
the river means life to man and beast, and verdure and freshness 
to the crops irrigated from it. 

Almost every hill and knoll for much of the way has one or 
more of the dazzling white, bell-shaped, brickwork pagodas so 
common all over this Buddhist land, in most cases surmounted 



with the " htee " or "umbrella," a large iron framework of that 
shape, richly covered with gold leaf ; and at various points the 
pagoda is hung with numbers of bells, that tinkle musically with 
every breeze. The number of pagodas is truly astonishing, and 
the amount they must have cost is one of the marvels of this 
strange and interesting country. 

Pagodas are seen everywhere and in large numbers. Not only 
is there liardly a village without them, but they are to be seen 


on lonely hillsides and hilltops in abundance, and sometimes in 
almost inaccessible places, on some crag or ledge of rock over- 
looking the plain. The reason for this vast multiplication of 
pagodas is not far to seek. Of all works of merit none is so 
effectual as the building of a pagoda. 

The following day, in the early morning twilight, we passed 
Pagan, a most remarkable place on the left bank of the river. 
It is one of the many former capitals of Burma, being the Royal 
City in the thirteenth century, but is now practically deserted, 
except for a few hundreds of pagoda slaves — an outcast class, 



condemned under Burmese rule to lifelong and hereditary service 
about the religious buildings. 

" It is practically," says a recent writer, " a city of the dead ; 
but as a religious city, it is certainly the most remarkable and 
interesting in the world, not excepting Mecca, Kieff or Benares. 
For eight miles along the river bank, and extending to a distance 
of two miles inland, the whole surface is thickly studded with 
pagodas of all sizes and shapes, and the very ground is so thickly 
covered with crumbling remnants of vanished shrines, that 
according to the popiilar saying, you cannot move foot or hand 
without touching a sacred thing. A Burmese proverb sa3^s there 
are 9,999. This may or may not be true ; but in any case it is 
certain that an area of sixteen square miles is practically covered 
with holy buildings. They are of every form of architecture and 
in every stage of decay, from the newly built fane glittering in 
white and gold, with freshly bejewelled umbrella on its spire, to 
the mere tumulus of crumbling brick, hardly to be distinguished 
now from a simple mound of earth." 

They are also of very various sizes, some of them being fine 
and imposing buildings, and others very small. What a weird 
sight it was, in the dim twilight of the early morning, to see from 
the upper deck of the steamer, passing before us like a panorama 
for eight miles, the towering growths of many centuries of vain 
offerings, of useless and unavailing endeavours. All was dark 
and gloomy ; mist and the dim twilight covered everything. It 
was the abode of the dead. Those pagodas were the memorials 
of a dead faith, and all the self-sacrifice that produced them was 
but elaborate self-seeking. The buildings seen in the distance 
put me in mind of a cathedral city, but it was a chilling thought 
that amid all that grim and solitary vastness there were neither 
worshippers nor worship — nothing, in fact, but a dreary waste of 
pagodas, most of them in various stages of decay. A subsequent 
visit to Pagan, and the more leisurely survey of this marvellous 
place, made one feel still more the sadness of the spectacle of this 
untold expenditure of property and labour, and the result neither 
honour to God nor benefit to man. Such is human " merit," 
and such are all attempts to accumulate a store of it. 



It is a curious feature about pagodas that though so many are 
seen going to decay they still continue to build. The explanation 
of this is that the work of special merit is to build a pagoda, and 
no special merit attaches to the work of restoration or repair, 
except in the cases of the few pagodas of great renown, which are 
greatly resorted to by worshippers and pilgrims. 

On the morning of the fourth day from Prome we reached 
Mandalay. Here we met the Eev. J. H. Bateson, who had 
arrived three weeks before^ having come out from England in 
the capacity of Wesleyan chaplain to the Upper Burma Field 

The first thing to attend to after we had looked round a little 
was to find a place to lodge. This matter was soon settled by 
our Army chaplain taking us to the quarters which had been 
assigned to him by the military authorities. This lodging was 
novel, for it consisted of one of the buildings belonging to a large 
Buddhist monastery, substantially built of teak, and with the usual 
highly quaint, ornamental and fantastic-looking roof, richly decor- 
ated with most elaborate carving all over, and tapering at one end 
into the form of a spire. There were many other buildings of a 
similar kind around us, some of them really grand and imposing. 
Within a very short distance of us, in buildings of a similar kind, 
which are quite different from the ordinary Burmese houses, the 
whole of the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire "Regiment, several 
hundreds strong, were lodged. It was said by the chief Buddhist 
authorities about the time of the annexation that there were close 
upon six thousand monks in Mandalay, but there are monastery 
buildings to accommodate many times that number. In addition 
to all the monks, the entire British force of English troops, Native 
Indian Sepoy troops, and military police in Mandalay, altogether 
several thousands strong, were lodged in monastery buildings, 
and still there was plenty of room to spare. 

Mandalay has been well styled the Vatican of Buddhism. So 
numerous are the religious buildings they seem almost endless, 
and it is evident that no small portion of the resources of the 
country must have gone in these works of merit. Within a day 
or two of our arrival, when we began to look about, we found 



that we were in close proximity to many remarkably fine religious 
buildings, and many startling contrasts were brought into view 
by the exigencies of the times. Close by the quarters of the 
Hampshire Regiment was a pagoda of fantastic shape. Being 
a brick building, and not liable to catch fire, it had been put in 
use as the armourer's shop, and there the regimental blacksmith 
was at work with his anvil and tools, his portable fireplace and 
bellows, and close beside him, as he worked, was the beautiful 
marble image of Buddha for which the pagoda was erected. 

The regimental cantten, from whence proceeded of an evening 
the loud laughter of the soldiers in their cups, and the singing of 
many a long-drawn-out song in the true English vernacular, was 
originally a building consecrated to Buddhist meditation, asceticism 
and prayer. The regimental guai'd-room — and in those days they 
had to keep good watch and ward, for the country was in a state 
of great disturbance — was a Burmese zayat or resting-place, built 
by the piety of some one for the benefit of frequenti;rs of these 
holy places, who little imagined that his zayat would ever be 
used as a place of detention for drunken and lefractory British 

But the great sight of tlie place is the " Incomparable Pagoda," 
as the Burmans proudly style it, situated close by the guard-room, 
and directly facing the beautiful monastery building then used 
as the ofiicers' mess. This remarkable structure is a huge pile 
of building raised upon vast masonry pillars. It measures fully 
300 feet in length, is proportionately broad, and rises in the form 
of a pyramid to such a height as to be visible several miles off". 
Its sumptuously carved and gilded teak-wood doors, forty-four in 
number, are quite a sight to see in themselves, as is also the 
magnificent decorative planter work all around and over the 
building, and rising to its very summit. At that time, in the 
absence of churches and chapels, for want of a better place with 
sufiicient space for hundreds to assemble together, the Hampshire 
Regiment used to have " church parade " in the vast expanse 
amongst the pillars at the basement of the Incomparable Pagoda. 
It was a cool, airy, comfortable place, and open on all sides to the 
breeze, so that it answered very well in such a hot climate. 



There also many other meetings were held in those days of " Field 
Service," when we had all to be satisfied with such accommodation 
as we could get. It was there our prayer-meetings and class- 
meetings were held for the soldiers, and there, amidst that 
wilderness of pillars, under that vast heathen shrine, we had 
the joy of directing anxious penitents to the Saviour, and there, 
too, we held, in company with Major Yates of the Eoyal Artillery, 
the first temperance meeting ever held in Mandalay. 

Leaving this Bethel of ours at the basement of the Incom- 
parable Pagoda, and ascending by one of the fine broad flights 
of steps, the visitor comes to the wooden platform of the pagoda, 
and on being ushered in by the polite old abbot or presiding 
monk, he sees a very fine, spacious building, very lofty, with 
many images of Buddha, sheltered under great white canopies, 
besides some curiosities of European manufacture, such as mirrors 
of vast size, and gigantic colouied glass chandeliers, that must 
have been imported at immense cost. 

But the sight of the place is the hall which contains the mar- 
vellous wood carvings in relief, all of Burmese workmanship, 
representing most clearly all manner of sacred histories and 
incidents, the whole of this elaborate and ingenious work being 
overlaid with gold leaf. Truly Mandalay is a wonderful place 
for religious buildings. 

Close beside the Incomparable Pagoda are to be seen the 
Ku-tho-daAV or iloyal Merit pagodas, forming a unique and truly 
wonderful piece of work. They consist of a triple square of sets 
of little white pagodas, each of which is amply large enough to 
form a shrine for one large slab of Burmese marble, which stands 
up in the middle, like a cemetery headstone, enshrined each in 
its own neat, bell-shaped pagoda building. Each slab of marble 
is covered completely with a most accurately executed inscription 
in the Pali language, in letters about three-eighths of an inch in 
length. I have never counted these pagodas, but I am told by 
those who have that there are 730 of them in all. They are 
arranged in perfect symmetry, forming three squares one within 
another, each square being surrounded by a wall with handsomely 
carved gates. In the centre of the innermost square is a large 




pagoda, and ascending the steps of that the spectator can obtain 
a good view of the whole, extending over many acres of ground. 
The whole space between the rows of pagodas is carefully paved 
with bricks. Every part of the work has been most thoroughly 
carried out, utterly regardless of expense, and everything is of 
the best. There is no crowding, but ample space is given every- 
where. Is there to be found anywhere or in any religion a more 
striking, impressive and unique example of thoughtful devotion 
and loving care of those writings supposed to contain the sacred 
truth? These 730 pagodas contain 730 tables of stone covered 
with inscriptions, and it is considered to be the best edition 
extant of the text of the three Pitakahs, and the three Pitakahs 
are the scriptures of Buddhism, acknowledged as authoiitative 
wherever Buddhism is the people's faith. 

Close by the Ku-tho-daw we found another marvel. In a tall 
brick building is an immense marble sitting figure of Buddha, 
25 feet high, scores of tons in weight, and thought to be perhaps 
tlie largest monolith in the world. 

But it is time we returned to the three men who, after a long, 
hot and tiring day in the dusty streets of Mandalay, had taken 
refuge in the little monastery, and were prepaiing to pass the 
night. Though little was said about it, we were well aware that 
we ran some risks in being there at that time. Upper Burma 
was still in the throes of the revolution which had taken place, 
and life and property were unsafe. Any day a rising might take 
place. We were practically in an enemy's country. The military 
were then, and for more than a year after, on the footing of a 
Field Force, and had constantly to patrol the country in small 
columns, and to go in all directions in pursuit of dacoits. Con- 
flicts with dacoits were of daily occurrence, and bulletins were 
published daily by the military authorities describing what took 

With all this military and police activity there were still bands 
of dacoits of considerable numbers ; crimes of violence and dacoit 
raids were constantly taking place, often with circumstances of 
revolting cruelty and outrage. The state of the country was 
such that English ladies and children were in official circles for- 



bidden to come to live in Upper Burma, and in unofficial circles 
dissuaded from it as much as possible ; the authorities could not 
undertake to protect them. No Englishman was allowed then, 
and for two years after that time, to travel outside the towns 
without military escort. Those were days when everybody who 
possessed a revolver kept it handy in case he should need to 
defend himself, and Government was glad to supply to every 
Englishman in the country a rifle and ammunition to be ready in 
case of need. 

Under these circumstances, with so much that was new and 
strange, it is not much to wonder at if we committed ourselves 
that night to Divine protection with more than usual fervency 
of petition. Our monastery was not built to meet such an 
emergency, and had no proper fastenings to the doors. Our 
carnal weapons consisted of one revolver and several stout bamboos, 
which having disposed to the best advantage, we lay down on 
our camp beds, and rested as well as the circumstances permitted. 

Happily this state of things has now passed away, and Upper 
Burma is as quiet as any other part of our Eastern possessions. 
During the few days Mr. Brown remained with us in Mandalay 
we came to the conclusion that this city, from its size and popula- 
tion (about ten times as large as any other town in Upper 
Burma), and from its general importance, was by far the best 
place to fix upon for the headquarters of the mission. Having 
settled this point, we reported to the committee in London accord- 
ingly, and Mr. Brown returned to Calcutta. After spending a 
fortnight in our monastery we found that, as it was on the 
extreme east of the town and a couple of miles from the centre, 
it was a very inconvenient place to live in. We therefore moved 
to a more central position, and rented for the time being a house 
belonging to an elderly Italian, who had been settled in Mandalay 
for many years as a weaver of velvet in the service of the king. 
Here we lived for a peiiod of a year, by which time the new 
mission house was built, and we removed to our permanent 
quarters. • 



IT was with feelings of no common interest that we disembarked 
from the steamer at Mandalay, and took our first glimpse of 
the place. The bustle of so many passengers disembarking 
created a very busy scene, and dense clouds of dust ai-ose, so that 
we were glad to get away as soon as possible. We proceeded to 
charter one of the conveyances we found there waiting for hire, 
a peculiar kind of vehicle, resembling in size and appearance 
a dog kennel set on a pair of high wheels, and it proved a 
marvel of inconvenience. You climb up with difficulty, thrust 
yourself through the small aperture as best you can, for it is no 
easy matter, and then you stow yourself away, sitting down on 
the floor of the conveyance with youi' knees about your ears. It 
is quite impossible to preserve a dignified demeanour in one of 
these bullock gharries, and yet, sad to relate, it was found that 
this was the only kind of conveyance available for His Majesty 
the King, when he was removed from the palace to the river on 
his way to India. 

The matter created quite a difficulty. To have mounted the 
king on such an occasion on a horse or an elephant would have 
been cruel mockery. At that time there were no horse gharries 
in Mandalay. They brought a dhooly first, but the king declined 
point blank to enter it. The bullock gharry was the best arrange- 
ment they could devise. 

One of the first things that attracted our attention was the 
inordinately gorgeous appearance of some things, and the very 




primitive and mean condition of others. This mixture of grandeur 
and shabbiness is quite an Oriental trait. The royal city and 
palace, the pagodas and the monasteries, were most sumptuous in 
style of building and decoration, but everything else looked very 
poor in comparison. The bamboo houses of the people looked 
small and frail and cheap. The roads, which we consider amongst 
the first essentials of civilised life, were as bad as they could be. 
They were of mere mud, which became dust several inches deep 
in dry weather, and a quagmire when it rained. The dense 
clouds of dust that rose wherever there was much traffic formed 
an experience truly distressing. 

Mandalay has been said to be remarkable for three things, 
Phoongyees, Pagodas and Pariah dogs. The phoongyees are the 
brethren of the yellow robe, the Buddhist monks, who are to be 
seen in Mandalay by thousands, and all through the country in 
like proportion to the population. The pagodas form here as 
everywhere in Upper Burma a feature in every landscape. The 
pariah dogs are uncommonly numerous. You might guess at 
once you were in a Buddhist country from the thousands of 
homeless, poor, emaciated, mangy creatures, nobody's dogs, that 
roam over the city, eating anything they can pick up, the vilest 
refuse, and acting as the scavengers of the place. They are 
never on any consideration killed by the Buddhists, but suflfered 
to multiply to any extent. As you walk about you often come 
upon eight or ten of these dogs at a time, and they seem as 
if they would tear you to pieces ; but though they seem so savage 
and so numerous they prefer to keep at a safe distance. 

Passing through the streets of the town, a drive of about two 
miles brought us to the moat outside the walls of the royal city. 
The city is in the form of a square, each face of which is over 
a mile in extent, and is surrounded by an enormous brick wall 
twenty-six feet high, many feet in thickness, and with battlements 
on the top. Outside the city walls is a broad open space of 
ground all the way round, and outside of that is a deep, broad 
moat, intended to serve the double purpose of military defence 
for the city, and of supplying drinking water to the inhabitants. 

For the purpose of communicating between the city and the 



town outside are five gateways, two on the townward or west 
side, and one on each of the others, with gates of enormous size 
and strength. Over each gate is a lofty and handsome tower 
built of teak wood, and rising to a point. Here and there along 
the walls at stated intervals, and facing the ends of the streets 
of the town, which run at right angles to the wall, are smaller 
towers of similar style, that serve to adorn the great wall of the 
city, and give it quite a handsome appearance. 

At the time I speak of the walled city was inhabited by a lai'ge 
population of Burmans, chiefly people who had been in close 
connection with the palace ; but owing to the decision of Govern- 
ment to make this place the military cantonment, the five thousand 
houses within the walls have been all cleared out, compensation 
being paid according to the value, and a very handsome ca.nton- 
ment has been made of it, with barracks for European and Indian 
troops. As the great majority of the houses were of teak or 
bamboo, this was not nearly so serious a matter as it might seem. 
The cantonment is now known by the name of Fort Dufferin. 

The royal palace consists of a square enclosure in the centre 
of the large square city. It was at that time surrounded and 
defended by a strong stockade of teak logs set on end in tlie 
ground, and inside of that, as a second line of defence, was a 
strong brick wall ; but both stockade and wall have since been 
removed by the British as unnecessary. Passing inside these two 
defences, the visitor found himself in the spacious grounds of the 
palace, part of which were prettily laid out Jis gardens, with 
artificial canals of water, rockeries and summer houses. Part of 
this space was devoted to the king's arsenal ; on the eastern side 
were the treasury and the mint. 

In the centre of all, raised on an earthen platform about eight 
feet high, and pretty well covering an area of perhaps a couple 
of acres with a miscellaneuos and iri-egular collection of hand- 
some lofty buildings, with mucli carving in teak, and abundance 
of the inevitable gold leaf, is the royal palace of the kings of 
Burma. Some of the buildings are of brick, but the majority 
are of teak. There is something decidedly impressive, unique and 
highly interesting about the palace, as a specimen of an Oriental 




monarch's residence, but from a European standpoint it is wanting 
in unity of design and symmetry of arrangement. The buildings 
are so huddled together that they lose much of their appearance, 
and you have to find your way about among these fine buildings 
by queer narrow little lanes and wooden platforms, and by many 
sudden and unexpected turns, that to a Western mind take off 
considerably from the majesty of the place. But then we must 
remember the character of the Burmese court, notorious for 
back-stairs influence, corruption, intrigue, conspiracy and the 
like. That being so, it is only natural that the palace buildings 
should allow proper facilities for the same, and be in keeping 
with it. 

The only approach to anything like the dignity of a palace 
from our point of view is the front or eastern side, where there 
is the throne room or audience hall, surmounted with the great 
spire which rises roof over roof to a considerable heiglit and 
almost to a point, terminating with the usual gilt umbrella. 
This was considered to be the centre of the universe by the 
Burman courtiers, and it is still facetiously called by that name 
by the English. It was here that the king used to appear on his 
throne on special occasions. It is said that King Mindohn, the 
father of King Theebaw, used to gaze at his people from his 
throne through a pair of biiioculai-s. The people would all be 
down on their knees in his pi-esence, and not only on their knees, 
but crouching on their elbows too, for that is the attitude for 
special reverence in Burma. 

There was one point of contention between the English and 
this very haughty and conceited Court of Burma that never was 
settled. That was the reception of our envoy. It was not 
sufiicient for them that he observed all the forms of respect 
known in European etiquette, but they required from him also 
their own, even to the removal of his boots in the king's presence. 
Now an English gentleman does not like to doff his boots in 
public, and to a military man it would seem particularly out- 
rageous to expect it of him. Hence it was a difficulty. Had 
King Theebaw accepted instead of rejecting our ultimatum in 
November 1886, he might have kept his throne and his palace; 



but the proper reception of the British Resident would have 
been one of the articles he would have had to agree to. 

It was in the great throne room that we held at first our 
Sunday morning parade services for the troops, the preacher 
taking his stand just by the foot of the throne : an interesting 
circumstance, and not without a touch of romance, — the Kingdom 
of Jesus Christ set up on the final downfall of this antiquated, 
corrupt and cruel Oriental despotism. But though we may hope- 
fully take this as a figure and prophecy of the triumph yet to 
come, the fact itself is a political rather than a religious one, and 
indicates just this, and nothing more — that Britain has conquered 
Burma, and is now able to do what she likes with Burma's most 
sacred and venerated places. We are not for that reason one 
inch nearer the real spiritual triumph of Jesus Christ in the 
hearts of the Buddhists of Burma. That work is but just begun. 

Some idea of the large extent of the palace buildings may be 
gathered from the fact that for many months they provided 
dwellings for the general and his numerous head-quarters staff, 
and for many other officers, besides barracks for an entire battery 
of artillery, officers and men. In addition to this, quite a number 
of departments, civil and military, had their offices there, including 
a postal and telegraph department. 

Near the front of the palace is the great tower, now used as a 
fire lookout station. On the top of this a native sentry is always 
on the watch, and the moment he sees a fire anywhere, either in 
the cantonment or in the town, he gives the alarm, and the fire- 
engines are soon on the spot. This is a matter of no small 
importance in this great city of 188,000 inhabitants, where the 
houses are of such a highly inflammable material as bamboo, and 
where in one year 35 fires occurred, destroying 9 monasteries 
and 724 houses, of the total value of 310,000 rupees. 

Close by the front of the palace was the residence of the famous 
Lord White Elephant, to whom royal honours were paid. He 
was regai-ded as the king of elephants, and therefore none but 
the king could mount him. His trappings were of the most 
sumptuous and valuable description — silk and rich cloth, orna- 
mented with gold, rubies and emeralds. All his vessels and 



utensils were made of gold. None but the king and the white 
elephant might enjoy the dignity of the white umbrella, for that 
is the chief emblem of royalty. This august quadruped had his 
own retinue specially told off to do him service ; his attendants 
and all visitors took off their shoes when they entered his quarters, 
and the people bowed and did obeisance when he passed through 
the streets. Not that he was white. No elephant is anything 
near a white colour ; but besides the lighter colour of the animal 
there are other tests which, according to the Burmese science on 
the subject, settle the matter of a white elephant ; and it is a 
science of considerable gravity and importance. He must have 
five toe nails on his hind feet instead of the usual four ; and when 
water is poured upon him, if he is a true albino, he will turn red 
and not black. 

The reason why so much superstitious and absurd reverence 
was paid to the white elephant was that the possession of an 
undoubted specimen was supposed to be a sign and symbol of 
universal sovereignty, so that it was deemed veiy lucky for the 
King of Burma to possess one. In the sixteenth century the 
kingdoms of Pegu and Siam fought over one for many years, till 
five successive kings and thousands of men were killed, which 
shows the importance attached to this possession by both nations. 
How often nations have fought ovei' that which was only a white 
elephant when they had gained it ! 

It was a singular coincidence that within a few days of the 
capture of Mandalay the white elephant died, and was buried 
with some display, the troops being turned out on the occasion. 
It was as well he did die, for had he lived he would have been to 
the English a veritable lohite elejyhant in the English colloquial 
sense of that term. We can come quite as near to universal 
sovereignty as we wish to be, or as is good for us, without the, 
magic aid of a white elephant. 

The principal building to the front of the palace, and just 
within the stockade, is the Hloot Daw, a fine large hall where the 
four chief ministers of state, with their subordinates, used to meet 
for the transaction of their business. After the annexation in 
1886, there was an attempt made to govern through the medium 



of the Hloot Daw, but it turned out a failure. These high 
Burmese officials, it was found, needed to learn the very ABC 
of honest, fair and disinterested administration, and as they were 
too old to learn they were pensioned off. 

Altogether apart from the great walled royal city, now Fort 
Dufferin, was the still greater town of Mandalay. It is now 
constituted a municipality ; but in Burmese times, when the city 
was all in all, it was merely in Burmese phrase the Anouk-pyin, 
z.e., the western suburbs. The town of Mandalay lies, more or 
less, on all the four sides of the city, but mostly on the west, filling 
on that side all the space between the city and the river, and 
from north to south extending five or six miles. The Mandalay 
municipality covers, more or less densely, an area of eighteen 
square miles. Some portions of that space are thinly populated, 
and a very little of it is under cultivation as fields and gardens ; 
but most part of it is pretty well studded with houses, and some 
of it densely populated, so that it is a very large city. It is 
uncommonly well laid out. The streets are straight, very wide, 
run at right angles to each other, and many of them are planted 
with shady tamarind trees. Some of the streets are now metalled 
and made serviceable for traffic, but five years ago, though so 
well planned and bi-oad, they were in a most deplorable state ; 
and those of us who look back to that time have amusing recol- 
lections of the straits we were put to in order to get about in the 
rainy season. 

The southern end of Mandalay touches the northern limit of 
Amarapoora, which was the capital up to 1860. Here are to be 
seen the remains of a great royal city nearly as large as that 
at Mandalay, and after the same model exactly, — square; set 
so as to face the four cardinal points ; the ruins of a great wall 
around ; a deep moat outside, now dry ; the palace in the centre ; 
pagodas and other sacred buildings here and there, scattered over 
the place ; and everywhere broken bricks strewn about ; some of 
the ground now cultivated, and the rest covered with dense 
tangled jungle; but not a single inhabitant. 

This changing of the capital from place to place, once in a while, 
seems a strange, extravagant freak on the part of the Burmese 



kings, especially in such a case as this, where it involved the 
founding and building of a new city only four or five miles 
from the existing one, and all the people had to transfer them- 
selves and their houses and property as best they could at the 
king's command. Superstitious fear was probably the chief if 
not the sole reason for all this useless waste. There are, within 
a circle of a dozen miles, four places that claim the honour of 
having been sometime capitals of Burma, viz., Mandalay, Amara- 
poora, Ava and Sagaing, all within little more than a century, and 
the three latter all show the' crumbling remnants of their former 
glory. There are, besides these, other towns scattered up and 
down the country that have formerly been capitals. 

Sagaing, twelve miles from Mandalay, was the capital in 1762, 
and the remains of the city wall are still to be seen. Amara- 
poora was founded in 1783. In 1822 it was almost totally 
destroyed by fire. It is said, too, that a vulture alighting on 
the royal spire of the palace caused great uneasiness to the king. 
The court astrologers were summoned to explain this omen. As, 
in their estimation, it foreshadowed evil, a new palace was built 
at Ava, and the capital was removed there in 1823, but only 
remained there till 1837. Those of us who are now in middle 
life will remember learning in our geography, " Burma, capital 
Ava," whereas this fugitive capital, though it appeared so in our 
school books, had long before our day left Ava and gone back to 
Amarapoora, where it remained till 1860, when the king and his 
court made their last removal to Mandalay. 

One thing is clear : the country that can afford to gratify its 
superstitious fear of omens in this spendthrift way, lightly under- 
taking to build a new capital every now and then, and whilst 
sparing so much on pagodas, monasteries, monks and other works 
of merit, yet look so plump and well favoured as Burmans usually 
do, must possess considerable sources of wealth, and there is no 
doubt such is the case with Burma. 

Between the religious buildings and the dwellings of the people 
the contrast is great, but it was greater in Burmese times than 
it is now. It was very significant indeed to observe the rage for 
building brick houses that took place in Mandalay, when once it 



was known for certain that the Burmese Government was no 
more, and that it was to be the English Government henceforth ; 
and equally instructive was it to observe how the value of property 
went up by leaps and bounds. One needs no better proof than 
that of the reputation British rule enjoys even in the remote 
East, and of the enlivening touch it gives to commerce and all 
that is free and enterprising. And how the natives of India of 
different races flocked into the upper province after the annexa- 
tion ! They knew what British rule was in India, even though 
many of them knew not a word of English. Even the Upper 
Burmans, who were quite new to our government, seemed at once 
to enter into the spirit of the change that had come. The sump- 
tuary laws were removed, of course, now the king was gone ; that 
is, such laws as regulated to a nicety what style of house a man 
might build, and what kind of an umbrella and how many of 
them he might carry on state occasions ; and the Burmans who 
had money now no longer feared that if they let it be known 
they would have to part with it. Hence, for vai'ious reasons, the 
building of substantial brick houses went on at a great rate, and 
almost all the brick houses now seen in Mandalay were built at 
that time. 


MANDALAY is very cosmopolitan. As with many cities in 
the East, the modern facilities for travel and the prospects 
of business have brought together people of many nations and 
tongues. As regards the Burmans themselves, who of course are 
the great majority of the inhabitants, future chapters will afford 
opportunities for describing them. It is rather of the multifarious 
foreign element of the population that I wish now to speak. 

In the streets of Mandalay it is no uncommon thing to see 
a people evidently of the Mongolian type, and not unlike the 
Burmans in appearance, but slightly different in features, different . 
in language, and in dress. These are the Shans, the inhabitants 
of the elevated country to the east of Upper Burma — a fine country 
by all accounts, and likely to grow greatly in prosperity and to 
attract population, now that it has come under firm and settled 
rule. They are distinguishable by their dark, baggy trousers in 
place of the Burmese loin cloth, by the very large pliable straw 
sun-hats which they wear, and by a larger amount of tattooing 
on the body than is usual with the Burmans. The Shans are 
great gardeners and great traders. Caravans of pack bullocks 
loaded with produce from the Shan Hills are frequently seen 
coming into Mandalay, accompanied by Shans armed to the 
teeth, as well as men on foot carrying loads ; and now that the 
land has rest from incessant tribal war and dacoity, this trade is 
on the increase. In 1888-89, according to Government returns, 
the number of laden bullocks was 27,170, and the value of the 

33 3 



goods 730,279 rupees; nearly double the returns of the previous 
year. The Shans, after disposing of their loads, purchase in the 
bazaar goods of European manufacture for the return journey. 
A few Shans are permanently resident in Mandalay. 

There were scarcely any English people in Upper Burma, 
especially during the reign of King Theebaw ; but now, of course, 
they are the leading race, and are to be found in all the highest 
posts. In addition to those belonging to the army, the leading 
civiHans and officials of Government are English gentlemen ; and 
to tliem is committed the control of the revenue, the administra- 
tion of justice, the police, the Departments of Public Works and 
of Survey ; whilst some are there in business of their own, and 
others find employment under the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company 
as officers or engineers on board the river steamers. 

The Eurasian element — i.e., of mixed descent, European and 
Asian — is of course also to be found, some having come over from 
India, others belonging to Burma, and they mostly find employ- 
ment as clerks or in some similar capacity. French, Italians 
and Greeks were there before we were, and some of these 
nationalities found employment in various capacities in the 
service of the king. 

The Armenians are a small but very respectable class. They 
are similar in dress and habits to Europeans, and speak English. 
Many of their number are to be found in Calcutta also, and in 
Bangoon, quite settled and domiciled in the East. In Mandalay 
they have a church of their own, and the priests of the Greek 
Church, to which they belong, pay occasional visits. 

Of Parsees we have a few ; and here, as in their native place 
about Bombay, they are an enlightened and very respectable 
people in good positions. 

There is quite a numerous section of the population belonging 
to the Zarabadee community, as they are called. They are half- 
caste Mahomedans, the descendants of Mahomedans from India 
settled in Mandalay, by Burmese mothers. They supply an 
interesting example of the growth of a religious community 
merely by the natural process, and apart from proselytising efforts, 
when the natural increase of numbers is all absorbed by that 

"the shans are distinguishable by their dark, baggy trousers, and the very large 




religious community. They are Maliomedan in religion, but 
largely Burman in dress and appearance. They speak Hindustanee 
and Burmese. 

There is a class of people called Kathays about whom there 
appears to be some special interest. They are the descendants 
of people from Manipur, brought over formerly as the result of 
some conquest by the Burmans, and long since settled in the 
capital. Their condition, at least as it was originally, reminds 
one of the exile of the Jews. in Babylon. They have a language 
and religion of their own, but speak Burmese too. They are a 
peaceable and industrious community, mostly employed in weav- 
ing the pretty, bright-coloured, figured silk cloths worn by the 
Burmese women. 

Another class not native, but long resident in Upper Burma, 
are the Ponnas or Brahmins from Manipur. To one accustomed 
to meet with that caste in India they look very degenerate, and 
although they still wear the sacred Brahmin thread over the 
shoulder as in India, they seem to have become very much less 
fastidious about mixing with other castes than their brethren of 
the great continent. They seem to enjoy a position of consider- 
able standing and influence in the country of their adoption, and 
gain a good livelihood by the two apparently not very kindred 
occupations of dairy-keeping and fortune-telling. It is their 
reputation for the latter that gains them their position of import- 
ance with a light-hearted, casual and very superstitious people 
like the Burmans. This soothsaying seems to be quite a recognised 
function, that makes the Ponna welcome throughout Burmese 
society, and nowhere more so than at court. In their literature, 
the Ponna constantly figures as an honoured and indispensable 
personage at the palace, whose business it is to study the stars, 
consult the horoscopes, make known lucky days, and, in fact, 
decide the thousand and one important affairs of life wherein the 
Burman considers it necessary to appeal to the occult. 

Coming now to the mercantile classes, we have some interesting 
specimens. First, the Sura tees, keen business men, merchants 
and shopkeepers, men capable of large transactions, Mahomedans 
in religion, Oriental in dress. The leading member of this 



community in Upper Burma, a very wealthy man, did a good 
deal of financing for the king, and no doubt made it pay well. 
When the downfall of the Burman kingdom took place he came 
to no harm. Amongst other transactions he was the lessee of the 
Great Bazaar, and as the lease had still some years to run, he 
continued to hold it, and profited greatly by the enormously 
improved trade. 

The Marwarees are another class of traders hailing from India. 
They are Hindus from Gujerat, wholesale dealers in piece goods, 
and very smart business men. 

The Moguls are Mahomedans from Persia, with a complexion 
almost as fair as a European's. They are the only people of all 
the many nationalities I have met with in the East who dress 
exactly like the pictures that are drawn of Bible scenes and 
characters. The special shape and size of turban, and the long 
loose outer garment some of them wear, put one in mind of the 
pictures exactly. 

A cosmopolitan place would be incomplete without some Jews. 
"We have them in Mandalay of various nationalities, European 
and Oriental, and they seem to be all shopkeepers. One firm 
hail from Baghdad, very near the dwelling-place of our first 
parents, and speak a vernacular which they call Hebrew. 

The principal native bankers are the Hindu Chetties from the 
Madras Presidency. They are a remarkable class of people, very 
wealthy, very keen at business, men of their word in all trans- 
actions, being fully alive to the value of keeping their credit by 
an unstained reputation in finances; and if one firm of their 
community find it difficult to make their payments, the rest of 
the Chetty firms will usually come to their help, to save the 
reputation of the whole. Yet with all this they dress, eat and 
live as if they had a very meagre income, and have the appear- 
ance of mere savages. The vast array of naked skin they show 
is almost black in complexion, and they have almost no education 
beyond the bare necessities of finance. Their food is of the 
simplest ; their houses, all on the two sides of one street to be 
near each other, are substantially built to protect them fiom 
thieves, but almost devoid of all furniture. They are not negli- 



gent of religion, for as soon as they came they secured land and 
built a Hindu temple. Their dress, consisting of two pieces of 
thin white cotton cloth, one round the waist and the other loosely 
thrown over one shoulder, could be bought for three-and-sixpence ; 
the closely shaven head has no covering, and the feet none. 
Such is the Tamil Chetty, the very last man in all Mandalay you 
would take for a wealthy money-lender ; but he is in great request 
with the improvident Burmans who possess any property upon 
which it is possible to borrow. The Chetties came over to 
Mandalay when the country was annexed ; their keen business 
instincts telling them two things — one, that there would now be 
plenty of business doing; the other, that it would now be safe 
to come and do it. The prospects of those who get into their 
clutches are not bright. The price of money is very high in the 
East. The late Earl of Beaoonsfield speaks somewhere of " the 
sweet simplicity of the three per cents," but the Tamil Chetty 
considers twenty-five per cent, per annum much simpler. 

Leaving the mercantile and moneyed classes, and coming to the 
rank and file, there are in Mandalay some thousands of natives 
from many different parts of India, speaking many languages, 
and engaging in a great variety of callings. Europeans often 
think of India as a country, but it is really a continent, and has 
as great, if not a far greater, variety of peoples and tribes than 
Europe presents. There is the Bengalee Baboo, probably a 
clerk, the Hindustanee doorkeeper or messenger, the Tamil over- 
seer or coolie. Even in our Sepoy army in Mandalay one sees 
great variety. There is the tall hardy Punjabee, the wild Pathan 
and the still wilder Beloochee. There is the jolly stout little 
Goorkha, who stands in such good repute as a fighting man ; the 
somewhat weedy-looking Madrassee, whose name does not rank 
high for valour ; and there is the brave, fierce-looking Sikh, with 
a national-religious scruple against cutting his hair, who curls 
the two ends of his beard up round his two ears when it becomes 
too long to hang down. What tact it must require to mould out 
of these diverse elements " the finest body of disciplined Asiatic 
troops in existence," and yet we are told, and it is true, that the 
real strength and safety of our Indian Sepoy army lies in the 



judicious blending and balancing of these diverse elements, a 
lesson which the great mutiny unmistakably taught us. 

We depend very much upon Indians for the supplying of our 
wants in Burma. The butcher, the baker, the' washerman, the 
cook, the railway porter, the writer, the messenger, the soldier, 
the cabman, the postman, the farrier, the sweetmeat vendor, the 
sweeper, are in almost all instances natives of India, for the easy- 
going Burman lets all these employments slip past him. 

The place is quite a Babel for languages. The names of the 
stations on the railway indicate the polyglot character of the 
population. It is of course out of the question to attempt to 
represent even the half of the tongues commonly spoken, but 
they select the five which we may presume are in most common 
use, English, Burmese, Hindustanee, Hindi and Tamil, and the 
name of the station is painted in all these. 

The Chinese in Burma are worthy of special mention as forming 
an important community in eveiy great centre of population. In 
Mandalay they are numerous, occupying almost entirely both sides 
of one long street, called after them China Street, as well as other 
localities in the town. They seem to settle down and marry Bur- 
mese women and live very happily. They are keener business 
men than the Burmans, more knowing, more enterprising, more 
persevering, more industrious. The Burman is as good at carpentry 
as he is at anything ; that is, in fact, one of his strongest points, 
but John Chinaman ousts him completely at that. Leaving the 
little petty carpentry to the Burmans, ho carries all before him 
in large building contracts. Though John's rates are higher he 
does the work better, and what is important to the English mind, 
he finishes the work in the time stated. Some of the Chinese are 
shopkeepers. Whilst many Chinamen are thus a boon to the 
country, and valued as a useful class of workers, others again do 
much mischief, corrupting the people wherever they go — keeping 
liquor shops, diligently spreading the opium-smoking habit, and 
pandering to the natural love of the Burmans for gambling. 
The offenders against the excise laws — cunning secretei's and 
workei-s of illicit stills — are usually Chinese. 

With the mention of so many different nationalities of foreigners 



in the place, it will at once occur to the reader that the carr3dng 
on of all kinds of work and business depends very largely upon 
the foreigners and very little upon the Burmans. That is true. 
Somehow the Burmans, though they are in Mandalay consider- 
ably over 100,000 strong, and multitudes of them are very poor, 
fail to take up very many of the duties of life and the needs of 
society, and allow themselves to be ousted in many employments 
by immigrants from other countries where the conditions of life 
have taught them to bestir themselves. The Burman is easy- 
going, casual and satisfied with a little. When a great increase 
of the population of Burma has rendered the struggle for existence 
much more urgent than it is now, the Burman will either have 
to bestir himself or go to the wall. 



IT has already been stated that Upper Burma, at the time of 
the annexation, and for somie time after, was politically and 
socially in a state of serious disturbance and disorder. It may 
bt; well to inquire a little more closely into this matter, that we 
may the better understand the circumstances of the country as 
we found it, and the better appreciate what has been done by 
way of remedy. 

A state of distui'bance was, under the circumstances, inevitable. 
An invasion, followed by an annexation, is seldom a very quiet and 
peaceable process, and this was no exception. But in this case 
there were features that greatly complicated the matter, and made 
the task of pacifying and governing much harder. When the 
expedition under General Prendergast went up the Irrawaddy at 
the close of 1885 it was an easy victory, and there was no resistance 
worth mentioning. Mandalay, the capital, yielded without a blow. 
This easy conquest proved the inefficiency of the Burmans as a 
Government, and led to the belief that very little trouble would 
be experienced in governing the country. But this proved to be by 
no means the case. For four years it has been one constant and 
strenuous battle with the forces of disorder ; and whatever has been 
done in the way of pacification and improvement of the country 
has been done in the teeth of difficulties of no ordinary character. 

If the question be asked how it was that the country was so 
easy to conquer yet so difficult to pacify and restore to order, the 
answer is not far to seek. In the first place, the weaker a 




Government is the stronger are the elements of crime and dis- 
order lurking about, and having overthrown the one you still 
have to reckon with the other. King Theebaw's was a weak 
Government, and crime and disorder had increased so much that 
their reduction had become a formidable task. 

The territory over which King Theebaw ruled, or professed to 
rule, was of immense extent, and very sparsely populated, and 
the vast tracts of jungle with hilly, broken country afforded ample 
cover for the numerous bands of dacoits. Dacoity is the word 
used in India for gang robbery, and it is usually accompanied 
with murder and various forms of cruelty. It had always 
flourished in Upper Burma, and was unfortunately regarded not 
as a cruel, brutal and detestable crime, to be put down by the 
united efforts of the government and the people, but more as an 
acknowledged and unavoidable institution. 

We may find some parallels to this in brigandage in Southern 
Europe, in the Border warfare so well described by Sir Walter 
Scott, and in the state of things prevailing formerly in the West 
of England, as set forth in Lorna Boone. The dacoit leaders 
were a kind of privileged freebooters, who spared those who paid 
blackmail, and wreaked their vengeance on others, and there was, 
in the opinion of the people, some air of romance about the life. 
No Burmese Government had ever been strong enough or resolute 
enough effectually to stamp out this plague. When the English 
took the reins of government at the annexation, this naturally 
gave a fresh impulse to dacoity under the notion of patriotism ; 
and for some time the leaders who had large gangs occasionally 
tried conclusions with the small cokimns of police and military 
sent out to patrol the country. 

The Government ofiicial report of affairs in Upper Burma 
gives the following summary of the first year's work of pacification, 
viz., up to the end of 1886. 

" The pacification of the country has been a prolonged work 
of much difficulty. Dacoity on the largest scale has been ram- 
pant ; and military operations have been necessary in almost 
every part of the country in order to suppress it. To the end of 
the year 1886 about 180 encounters had taken place with these 



lawless bands. They seldom offered serious resistance, except 
when fighting in bush or jungle. The loss they caused to the 
British troops between November 17th, 1885, and October 31st, 
1886, amounted to 11 officers and 80 men, killed or died 
from wounds. But greater difficulties than the armed opposition 
were found in the dense jungle, the want of roads, and the 
unfavourable, in some cases deadly, climate. The result of these 
difficulties during the period above mentioned was a total loss 
of 3,053 officers and men, who died from disease or had to be 
invalided. The average number of troops employed in Upper 
Burma during 1886 has been 14,000, but at the end of 1886 
the number in the country was 25,000." 

So deep-rooted is the habit of dacoity in Burma that it easily 
breaks out afresh whenever disorder spreads, or whenever any 
daring fellow thinks fit to try his luck as a hoh or leader. The 
people are easily deluded with his boast and swagger ; and having 
implicit faith in the special tattooing and charms which are 
wairanted to lender them bullet and sword proof, they readily 
follow his standard. Hundreds of hohs have had their day 
during the last five years, and pursued a successful course of 
robbery, murder and rebellion for months together, eluding the 
police and the military. But owing to the tenacity of purpose, 
and the inexhaustible resources of the British Government, they 
have to succumb in the end. Many have been killed or taken 
prisoners in engagements fought ; others treacherously murdered 
by their own followers, to get the reward set on the head of the 
notorious outlaw ; others, after months of a hunted life in the 
jungles, have come in and surrendered. There has been always 
ample opportunity given by the British for those who wished to 
abandon that bad way of life to do so, and more than once a free 
pardon has been offered to all those who might give themselves 
up, provided that they had not been guilty of murder. Many, 
from time to time, have availed themselves of that arrangement. 

Several princes — in Burma princes are fairly plentiful, not- 
withstanding that so many were massacred by order of King 
Theebaw — have tried their hands at it, with vague ideas of 
getting the mastery of the country in due time. One, known 



by the title of the Sekkya Prince, estabhshed himself in the 
hill country about Kyaukse, only thirty miles from Mandalay, 
and as late as 1889 gave an immense amount of trouble, setting 
the military police at defiance for months, and committing many 
murders and depredations. He had an armed following of several 
hundreds, and several fights took place between them and the 
police. Though the dacoits were each time defeated and scattered, 
the ground was so difiicult for pursuit, that they could never 
catch the leader. At length he was taken in the Shan States, 
brought to Kyaukse, tried, convicted and hanged. This is a 
specimen of the kind of guerilla warfare going on in every district 
all over the country at that time. 

Another matter, which still further complicated the situation 
and gave strength to the forces of disorder, was the sanction which 
dacoity had received through the corruption of those high in 
office in the Burman Government before we took it over. A 
British civil officer of high rank, the commissioner of a division, 
writes as follows, as late as the middle of 1889, more than three 
years after the annexation : — 

" The task of reducing my own division to order I find a 
gigantic one. The Burman nature is simply saturated with law- 
lessness, and it takes the form of dacoity. Since King Mindohn's 
death \i.e., from the accession of King Theebaw in 1878] it 
is a fact that most of the official classes in Upper Burma made 
large incomes by dacoity. Men high in office in Mandalay actually 
kept dacoit hohs, and shared with them loot, or the subsidies 
which were paid by the villagers for protection from other dacoits. 
The dacoit hohs were actually the governors, and paid some of 
the mingyees [ministers of state] in Mandalay regular sums, on 
condition of being let alone ! Each hoh had a large immediate 
gang or body of men around him, and a militia at any time 
available from the villages. We have had to break up this 
system of hoh government all over Upper Burma, a system which 
had been running for the last ten years. The villagers them- 
selves have become so accustomed to the government by dacoit 
chiefs, that they are actually afraid and even unwilling to help 
in getting rid of them. It will be admitted that difficulties like 



these are enormous ; sometimes they seem to be insuperable, and 
one is often indined to despair. We have not only to deal with 
the thousands of lawless ones who think we are encroaching upon 
their rights, but we have to try and educate the people to believe 
that these dacoits are not their rulers, and are not to be so. The 
villagers do not yet realise this, and it is this process of education, 
slow and painful, that impedes us so terribly in the work of 
subjugation and pacification. But the progress made has been 
very great." 

The following is given as a specimen of the encounters which 
for the first two or three years were of constant occurrence. 
This affair was perhaps exceptional in the amount of resistance 
offered, but in other respects quite usual and ordinary. It is 
quoted from a newspaper dated May 1888 : — 

" On the night of the 21st inst. 400 dacoits, principally Shans, 
with people from Mogaung district, under the leadership of Boh 
Ti, took up a position outside Mogaung. Lieutenant O'Donnell, 
Battalion Commandant, and Lieutenant Elliot, Assistant Com- 
missioner, with 75 Goorkha mihtary poHce, patrolled outside the 
fort the whole night. At 4 a.m. they attacked the dacoits, who 
hekl a strong position in a series of pagodas, which they had 
fortified during the night. The dacoits tenaciously held the 
position, and the consequence was that a fierce contest ensued, 
each pagoda being taken in succession. The last pagodti, when 
taken, was found to be choked with dead. The Goorkha poUce 
behaved splendidly. Our casualties were 8 killed and 15 wounded, 
while 49 dead dacoits were counted, and over 100 were reported as 
wounded, most of whom escaped. The struggle at the last pagoda 
was hand to hand over a four-foot wall, and bayonets and spears 
were used. It was here that 6 out of the 8 police killed fell." 

The mention of these fights deserves a place in any record of 
those times, for it was through this hard, rough police and military 
work — this continuous pounding at the mass of crime and lawless- 
ness that would not yield to gentler measures — that the land 
now enjoys peace and quiet throughout its length and breadth. 
There was manifestly no other way of quelling the disorders and 
curing the miseries under which the country groaned. 



This was a specimen of the fighting of our Indian military 
pohce; now for a specimen of that of our English soldiers, who 
also were incessantly employed in patrolling the country, and 
often met with dacoit bands. The instance given here does not 
by any means stand alone ; similar affairs often occurred at that 
time. It illustrates the courage and dash our men have shown 
throughout this very laborious and difficult campaign. Often 
called to go out in very small parties, they usually carried the 
day against all odds ; and even when, as in this instance, they 
met with such an unusual number of casualties as to debar them 
from getting the victory, their coolness and presence of mind 
have staved ojQT defeat and disaster, and enabled them to get 
through so well that the reverse was, considering the circum- 
stances, as creditable as a victory would have been. 

"On January 14th, 1889, information reached Lieutenant 
Nugent, in charge of a small force of the Hants Regiment, that 
the advanced guard of a certain rebel prince was stockaded in 
a village ten miles away. He at once decided to attack. He 
marched out with Sergeant Bevis and 15 privates, preceded by 
some of the troops, such as they were, of the Sawbwa of Momeit. 
On turning the corner of a jungle path, their stockade was 
observed with the gate shut, and white flags (emblematic of 
royalty) flying at the gate. The dacoits, on seeing our men, at 
once began to blow horns and beat tomtoms. Our Burmese 
auxiliaries at once made off, firing their weapons in the air. 
Nevertheless Lieutenant Nugent and the 1 6 Englishmen promptly 
charged the stockade, 16 against 200 ! When about thirty yards 
from the stockade the dacoits delivered such a heavy and well- 
directed volley that 8 out of the 16 were hit. Private Roberts 
was killed on the spot, and Lieutenant Nugent himself was 
wounded. Seeing that himself and half his party were disabled, 
and further assault was out of the question, Nugent gave the 
order to get the wounded from under fire and retire. It is at 
this point that the soldierly qualities of these men specially 
appear. The few men who were able had meanwhile got under 
cover of a slight inequality in the ground, and were keeping up 
a fire on the stockade. While himself assisting Private James, 




who was dangerously wounded, Lieutenant Nugent was again 
sti-uck a little below the left breast, this time mortally. 

" Sergeant Be vis now took the command, and rallied his small 
party round their fallen oiiicer, and seeing that the dacoits, now 
emboldened by observing the small number opposed to them, 
were coming out at the gate, he ordered his men to fire a volley. 
This caused the enemy to retire inside the stockade, and our 
party was molested no more. Stretchers were improvised with 
rifles and bamboos for Lieutenant Nugent and Private James, 
the other wounded managing to walk. The party made a halt 
at the village which they had passed marching out ; and here the 
gallant Nugent breathed his last. By dint of much pressure and 
promises of reward Sergeant Bevis obtained assistance from the 
Sawbwa's troops to carry the body and the bad cases to Momeit." 

Sergeant Bevis was much commended for his good manage- 
ment. He was promoted at once, and received the decoration 
of the Distinguished Service Order. Five days after a small force 
of Hampshire men and military police surprised and carried the 

Many were the deeds of valour in this long and trying cam- 
paign. A considerable number of badges of the Distinguished 
Service Order were awarded, and of the highest decoration for 
gallantry in the field that military men can aspire to, the Victoria 
Cross, no less than three were given. 

After what has been said about the Burmese ministers of the 
Crown, it will be no matter of surprise that the honest attempt 
of the British Government to utilise the local knowledge and 
experience of the Hloot Daw or supreme council of the kicg, 
as the medium of government, should entirely break down. As 
might have been expected, those worthies were found to be worse 
than useless at such a crisis. The kind of government they had 
been accustomed to administer was just the kind that was not 
wanted. They were therefore pensioned off, the pension acting 
in a twofold manner, as a substantial compensation for loss of 
ofiice, and as a guarantee of their loyalty ; they had something 
to lose. 

During the first year or two of the British occupation there 



was need for very special vigilance to prevent the carrying out 
of plots of insurrection, especially in Mandalay. It was of course 
childish to think they could dislodge the British power, but many 
of the people were slow to believe this, and foolish enough to 
listen to boasting proposals of this kind. However, such a good 
watch was kept, and the officials kept themselves so well informed, 
that all such attempts were nipped in the bud. Some idea of the 
magnitude of the work of pacification may be gathered from a 
paper published by the Chief Commissioner of Burma in 1889, 
from which it appears that no less than 363 dacoit hohs or 
leaders were either killed, or surrendered, or were taken prisoners 
between April 1887 and August 1889. 

The British Government, whilst very stern in pursuing, arrest- 
ing and punishing these notorious outlaws, made every concession 
towards mercy where it was possible. When a gang of dacoits 
was broken up, and the hoh killed or taken, the men composing 
it were usually allowed to settle down in their villages, giving 
bome sort of guarantee for their future good behaviour. As soon 
as it became safe to show any considerable leniency, the cases of 
all who had been sentenced to terms of penal servitude for parti- 
cipating in dacoity were carefully gone thi-ough by an experienced 
and able judicial commissioner, for the purpose of remitting the 
punishment wherever it could safely be done, particularly in cases 
where men had been led, during a time of anarchy and political 
excitement, to take part in crimes and acts of violence, from 
which, under ordinary circumstances, they would have abstained. 
The result was that 899 prisoners were set at liberty at once, 
and 450 more were promised their release in the following 
December if their conduct in jail continued good. Only the 
worst and most desperate offenders were kept in jail. 

It is just possible that some readers, failing to realise the full 
force of all the circumstances, may be inclined to think that the 
information given in this chapter leans too much in the direction 
of admiration of the military deeds described, and is lacking in 
consideration for the case of the unfortunate men against whom 
these operations were directed. I feel that it would ill become 
me to do anything to fan the flame of the military spirit, for 



militai'ism is without doubt one of the great curses of this age, 
and I have had no such design in view. I have merely described 
what took place. If the reader feels inclined to admire any of 
the actions here described, I must give him notice that he does 
it entirely on his own responsibility. 

It may occur to the reader that perhaps after all it was the 
spirit of patriotism that animated these Burmans. Were they 
not fighting for their country and their liberty, and doing their 
feeble best to cast out the invader ? Doubtless there was in some 
cases something of this feeling in their minds, enough to give a 
colourable pretext to their conduct at the time. But there are 
considerations that go to show that if we are to make any allow- 
ance on this account it will have to be very little. 

Dacoity existed and was rampant for years prior to our annexa- 
tion of the country. 

How is the motive of patriotism to be reconciled with the gi'oss 
cruelty, and robbery, and murder which all the dacoit bands con- 
tinually practised? 

When so many hundreds of bohs were fighting, each for his 
own hand, which were we to recognise ? And how many ? Their 
claims to the mastery were mutually antagonistic. 

I have already said that I decline to take the responsibility 
either of defending or of impeaching the action of England in 
the invasion of Upper Burma. It involves the great and wide 
question of Empire, which I leave to more competent hands. I 
content myself with giving the facts from the standpoint of an 
eyewitness, and enabling or assisting wiser men to settle the 
greater question. I take up the question at this point — England 
the de facto ruler. Somehow, rightfully or wrongfully, she is 
there, and has undertaken the government of the country. The 
country is in a llame with crime and disorder. What is she to 

There have been times, even in our own country, when certain 
crimes of violence, such as garotting, and certain forms of murder, 
have spread so as to cause almost a panic, and have needed special 
measures both as to detection and punishment. We are far more 
liable to such things in India. Take, for instance, that strange 


phase of crime known as " thuggee," which prevailed to a fearful 
extent years ago in India, and to which, in respect of each being 
an epidemic form of crime, dacoity in Burma has sometimes been 
compared. Thuggee was a thoroughly organised system of robbery 
and murder, carried out with great secrecy by an association of 
men banded together for the purpose, and who did it not by open 
assault but by stealthy approaches, and, strangest of all, with 
religious motives. The verdict of civilised society was that the 
extermination of the thugs was not only a justifiable thing to be 
done, but the solemn duty of the Government, notwithstanding 
the religious motives, and special officers of Government were 
deputed for that purpose, and the system was finally stamped out. 

So with dacoity. If men will be brutal, will set all law, human 
and divine, at defiance^ will make human life cheap and property 
unsafe, and keep the whole country in terror and confusion, to 
the detriment of all peace and progress, if, in short, they wdll 
come to no terms, but deliberately elect to assume the character 
of wild beasts preying on society, then all reasonable men will 
feel constrained sorrowfully to admit that a civilised Government 
has no alternative but to treat them as such, and hunt them 
down ; always however remembering that, as it is in the divine, 
so in the human administration, justice should be tempered with 
mercy ; and wherever there is room to hope for better things, the 
criminal should have another chance, a provision which our 
Government, as I have shown, has not neglected. 



THE previous chapter dealt with the pacification of Upper 
Burma proper, that tract of country which England has 
annexed, and in which we have assumed the full responsibility of 
government. In this chai)ter we have to consider our relations 
\vith certain states and tribes on our frontiers, which are not 
British territory, but for whose well-being and good behaviour 
we hold oui'selves to some extent responsible, in proportion as our 
influence among them is more or loss direct. 

As soon as our first ditliciilties in the pacification and admini- 
stration of Upper Burma were to some extent overcome, our 
Government had to turn its attention to the doings of the many 
barbai'ous and senii-barbarous tiibes and races in the regions 
immediately adjacent to Burma. 

To the east of Upper Burma, and situated between that 
country and the great empire of China, are the Shan States 
trilnitary to Burma, with an area about four-fifths that of England, 
but with a population no larger than that of Worcestershire, not 
one-fourth, it is said, of what it was fifty years ago. This country 
is a very fine one, consisting of a great plateau with a diversified 
climate and great natural resources, of which coal is one, though 
it has not yet been worked, and with every capncity for develop- 
ment. The Shan States are likely to play no unimportant part 
in the commercial development of the next few years, for it is by 
that route that the railway will go from Burma to China at no 
distant date. 



At present these states are in a most backward and uncivilised 
condition, and as they afford such an interesting illustration of 
the true frontier policy of England in the East, and the kind of 
influence our country is so well able to exert, in the discharge of 
her duty as the great suzerain power amongst many little races 
and peoples, I make no apology for describing it with some degree 
of detail. Such work as England is attempting to do, and will 
in the end undoubtedly succeed in doing there, is so beneficent 
and meritorious as to be beyond the possibility of objection ; and 
it would excite remark and applause if it were not so common — 
if England were not doing much the same all over her Eastern 

The relation of the Shan States to the British rule is a feudatory 
relation. They paid tribute to the King of Burma, and were 
supposed to be subject to him, but although receiving tribute, 
Burma conferred no benefits upon them. In fact, the idea that 
something in the shape of government was due to the Shans, in 
return for the tribute they paid, probably never entered the head 
of King Theebaw. These states have not been annexed to British 
territory, and are not likely to be, unless it should be found quite 
impossible to get their chiefs to learn to rule properly. At 
present the policy is entirely in the direction of setting these 
native rulers on their feet, and strengthening their power as much 
as possible. When the English commenced to rule at Mandalay 
that feudatory relation to the defunct Burmese Government 
passed over to the English. 

Politically the Shan States are divided amongst some eighteen 
chiefs, each ruling a greater or less extent of territory. In the 
early part of 1888 two British expeditions were sent to the 
Northern and Southern Shan States respectively, and the first 
steps were taken toward adjusting our relations with them. 

The condition in which the States were found by the British 
forces was a very sad one. For want of a controlling power over 
them there was a state of disorder amounting almost to anarchy. 
Might was right, and in the struggle for mastery the Shans were 
fast exterminating each other. Each petty chieftain with his 
followers was on the look-out to extend the sphere of his rule 



by aggression, and dacoit raids and incessant civil war were 
the result. 

Throughout the reign of King Theebaw the States had suffered, 
and the population had so seriously fallen off, by war and perhaps 
too by emigration, that land had fallen out of cultivation, and 
prosperous towns had been reduced, in some cases, to one- tenth of 
their former size. Added to this there had been a season of 
scarcity, and cattle disease had been very fatal. 

The people cordially welcomed the advent of a strong power 
that could enforce peace amongst them ; and what was wanting 
for the temporal salvation of this distressed country was just 
that kind of sovereignty and paternal rule which England was 
able and willing to give them. It was necessary for England to 
assert and maintain her rights as the suzerain power, and to 
discharge her duties by taking them under the broad shield of 
her protection and guidance. 

The Bi itish representatives accordingly received the personal 
submission of all the principal sawbwas or chiefs, confirmed them 
in their positions as tributary rulers, settled their relations with 
< iovernment and with each other, fixed the amount of tribute to 
be paid by each chief, and succeeded in placing the administration 
of the states on a satisfactory footing. Two British officials were 
appointed as Superintendents of the two divisions of the Shan 
States, northern and southern. Tribal disputes were henceforth 
to be referred to these officials for arbitration, and fighting 
between individual states was strictly forbidden. They were 
not to enter into relations with any other foreign power ; and 
they were gradually to approximate their primitive methods of 
government to our standards. 

In return for these conditions, to be fulfilled by the Shans, 
certain very substantial advantages were bestowed upon them by 
the British. Each chieftain is recognised and protected in the 
exercise of his chieftainship. 

The import duties formerly levied by Burma on goods going 
from Shanland into Burma are abolished, to the great advantage 
and encouragement of their trade. 

The great want of means of communication through the country 


is being met by the construction of roads by the British Govern- 
ment, at its own expense. 

A preliminary survey has been made of the different routes for 
a railway to run through the country, and a more accurate and 
detailed survey of the one chosen is to be made shortly. 

The navigation of the upper parts of the Salween River, which 
flows through the Shan States, is receiving attention with the 
view of utilising it for purposes of trade, if it be found 

Experiments are being made under the auspices of the Bi-itish 
in the Shan country, in order to introduce the cultivation of new 
cereals and other products amongst them, and to improve their 
breed of cattle and sheep. 

In short, England is trpng to do her duty by this naturally 
magnificent but very backward country, and it may be confidently 
stated that if any Government could help them on their feet it is 
the one they now have. The most recent information from the 
Chief Superintendent of the Shan States, the responsible British 
ofiicer appointed to look after them, shows that he finds them in 
a most benighted and backward condition socially and politically, 
and there will be need for lengthened intervention and much 
patience and perseverance on the part of the British Government. 
It is found that there has been no such thing as law in the 
country, written or unwritten. Everybody does what is right in 
his own eyes, if he can. The hold which these chiefs have on the 
territories they are supposed to rule is of the feeblest description ; 
and it will require time for the people to get out of that state 
of turbulence, unrest and distraction, and for the rulers to acquire 
power and experience for civil rule. Like incompetent rulers, 
they try at present to maintain their authority by inflicting most 
barbarous punishments for the most trivial offences. 

The Sawbwa of Thibaw is reported to be the only chief among 
them who exercises any real and active control throughout his 
state, and he endeavours to enforce the rule that the power of 
awarding capital punishment shall be restricted to the chiefs. 
In all the other states the people are fleeced by the minor officials, 
and criminal justice is administered in a cruel and haphazard 



fashion. An English traveller recently found the fresh head of 
a so-called thief posted up in the Mangko bazaar ; and in another 
place through which he travelled a boy of sixteen was summarily 
killed and barbarously mutilated, on the ground that he had been 
seen entering a buflalo shed, and was therefore supposed to be 
attempting cattle-stealing. 

As a beginning in the way of much-needed reform, our paternal 
Government has framed for their guidance a few simple rules for 
the administration of criminal justice, and supplied them to each 
chieftain, as a sort of alphabet of government for them to learn. 
I wonder what they think of our notions of justice. They must 
appear to them unaccountably and unnecessarily lenient towards 
the prisoner. How it must puzzle them, for instance, to be told 
that an accused person must be presumed to be innocent until he 
is proved to be guilty ! 

As a lesson in revenue and finance, each chief is now required 
to frame a simple form of budget for his state, subject to the 
approval of the Superintendent, fixing the amount to be devoted 
to the private expenditure of the ruling family, and making 
reasonable provision for the administration of civil and criminal 
justice, police, and public works. It puts one in mind of a 
class of boys coming up with their lessons written out for the 
teacher to see ; but it is evidently needed work, and it will not 
do to despise the day of small things. It will of course be a 
new idea to them that anybody else but the sawbwa himself 
has anything to do with the expenditure of the revenue of the 
state, which they have always been accustomed to consider as his 
private property. But Orientals take kindly to this tutelage, and 
will scarcely think of resenting it, though they might be tempted 
to neglect it if they could. And it must not be supposed that 
this case of the Shan States is any rarity, for this kind of inspec- 
tion, instruction and guidance is only what we are called upon to 
do in a greater or less degree in all the protected states which 
are feudatory to our Indian Empire, and in other parts of the 

The Chief Commissioner of Burma, to whom all the chiefs are 
amenable, commenting on the above rules, endorses the opinion 


expressed by one of the Superintendents, that it will probably be 
found impossible to effect any real reforms until a trained Dewan 
(Prime Minister) is appointed for each state to teach the rulers 
how to rule. As England is very resolute in all she takes in 
hand in this way, perhaps in course of time some faint sense of 
the responsibility of ruling may find its way into the minds of 
these benighted Shan sawbwas. But if it be not so, and if in 
the end England should find herself compelled, in the interests 
of humanity, to take a still larger share of the responsibility of 
ruling in that country, of which however there is at present no 
sign or mention, the foregoing information clearly shows that it 
will not be for want of an honest effort to get them to do it 

All this explains incidentally how it is that Empire with its 
responsibilities grows on our hands. In human affairs, when a 
man does his work well, you promote him by giving him more 
work to do. When the sudden emergency arises men naturally 
saddle the willing horse. It is so throughout the divine economy 
also. " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." 
" For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have 
abundance : but from him that hath not, even that which he 
hath shall be taken away." 

Of one thing there is no doubt, the states now enjoy tranquillity 
and the beginnings of prosperity such as they have not enjoyed 
for many years. Not long ago, meeting a Shan who had just 
come to Mandalay several days' journey on foot through the 
Shan States, I asked him what was the present condition of the 
country. His reply was, " So quiet, that even an unprotected 
female could walk through it." 

The chieftain mentioned above with approval as an exceptional 
prince, and more enlightened than his fellows, is the Sawbwa of 
Thibaw. He once had a curious experience, that appears to have 
considerably opened his mind and enlarged his ideas. Some years 
ago, before the annexation of Upper Burma was even thought of, 
he paid a visit to the great city of Kangoon. Like the Queen of 
Sheba, who had heard of the wisdom and glory of Solomon, he 
had received tidings of the great transformation that had taken 



place in that city, and wished to see the British power for himself. 
Possibly, as the Shans are Buddhists, he might be inclined also 
to pay a visit to the world -renowned Buddhist shrine at Rangoon, 
the Shwe Dagohn pagoda. To venture so far away from his 
remote inland state among the mountains shows him to be a 
man of some natural force of character, for most sawbwas would 
have been afraid to leave their states for so long. Whilst in 
Rangoon one of his retainers displeased him, and in a burst of 
anger he killed him on the spot. But, unfortunately for him, 
this had happened in British territory, where they call such 
actions, no matter who does them, by the name of murder ; and 
he was accordingly arrested and put in jail to stand his trial for 
that crime. His plea was of course that he was a king, and that 
he had the power of life and death ; and seeing that such was 
the case in his own territories, and that he had no idea he was 
exceeding his prerogative in doing as he did, he was released, and 
some good advice was given him for future use. It is gratifying 
to find that this experience has borne fruit, and that years after, 
when in course of things the Shan States have become tributary 
to Britain, and an attempt is being made to bring them somewhat 
into line with more enlightened nations, he is ofhcially named as 
the most progressive and reliable of the Shan rulers. 

Other operations for the pacification of our Burmese frontiers 
may be mentioned here. Amongst the barbarous and unlettered 
ti ibes on the mountains in the north there has been a continuance 
of the kind of lawlessness prevalent in the days before our rule 
in Upper Burma. The tribes of wild Kachins there have given 
considerable trouble from time to time. They are warlike and 
predatory, and in their mountains and jungles able to offer con- 
siderable resistance. 

Occasionally, too, in the north, large numbers of disbanded 
Chinese soldiers have turned dacoits, and crossed the frontier into 
the Bhamo district to plunder. They have, however, suffered 
severely whenever they have tried conclusions with the British 
columns sent out against them. Attention is being given to the 
delimitation of the Chinese frontier, which will lead the way to 
a better protection of it on both sides. In the east the Red 




Karens gave trouble, while on the west the wild Chins of the 
Arakan Yoma mountains continued their former practice of 
raiding into Burma and carrying off loot and captives. 

All this had to be brought to an end, and these lawless 
marauders given clearly to understand that it would no longer be 
permitted, but that a power now ruled in Burma that was able 
to keep them in check, and would protect the interests of its 
subjects against their acts of rapine and violence. Several ex- 
peditions were undertaken for this purpose to the different 
mountain tribes, and much hard, rough work had to be done; 
but beyond keeping theee tribes in order in relation to Burma, it 
is uncertain yet what measures England will initiate for their 
internal government. 

In connection with these different expeditions much valuable 
exploration and surveying work have been done on our frontieis, 
in what was formerly an unknown country. 

On the whole, it will be seen that to restore order and establish 
good government, in a country like this, and under such circum- 
stances, was a work of gigantic difficulty, requiring much activity 
and vigilance, much firmness and courage, readiness of resource, 
and withal a long purse. What has been spent, however, may 
be regarded as capital well laid out, that has already begun to be 
productive. Seldom, perhaps, has England undertaken a heavier 
task so far away from home ; never has she accomplished it with 
more credit. Gradually, but surely, the British talent for organis- 
ing and ruling has asserted itself, and the great resources at our 
command, despite the smallness of our numbers on the spot, have 
materially helped to win the victory. One cannot but admire 
that splendid courage, and that administrative ability, whereby 
our countrymen have taken over a country of vast extent, in a 
condition bordering on anarchy, and in five years, with the aid 
that India has been able to give in men and means, they have 
made it safer and more prosperous to live in than at any previous 
period of its history in modern times. 

The more extended notice of the progress made in the material 
development of Upper Burma is reserved for another chapter. 



BRITISH rule would have nothing to justify its presence in 
such a country as Burma if it did not evidently make for the 
well-being of the people. In this chapter we have to consider the 
initiation of those measures that have been adopted with this 
view, and to ascertain how far they are likely to secure it. Five 
years is not a period of time from which much can be expected 
by way of results, but it is long enough for us to form an estimate 
of the kind of beginning that has been made. 

Under Burmese rule no attempt was made at a division of the 
work of the executive into departments. Each minister of state 
was considered eligible to take charge of any and every post in 
the state, whether judicial, revenue, military or what not, just 
as in England, as Macaulay tells us, until comparatively recent 
times, any gentleman, if he possessed sufficient interest, might 
aspire to command a man-of-war, and naval and military 
commands were more or less interchangeable. But we have got 
far beyond that now, and our Indian Government is a model of 
efficiency and businesrf-like working, the officers of some depart- 
ments being professionally educated for them, and in others, 
specially trained for the work. 

The state of the public revenue is always some test of the 
industrial and fiscal conditions of a country. Beginning with the 
first year of the annexation, the income for the five years has 
steadily and rapidly risen : — 




In 1886-87 the revenue was 

1887- 88 „ 

1888- 80 „ 

1889- 90 „ 

1890- 91 „ 


To the amount for the last year a considerable sum might 
fairly be added on account of the earnings of the new line of 
railway to Maiidalay. Under the Burman king the revenue 
never exceeded 10,000,000 rupees, and during King Theebaw's 
reign it had fallen to 9,000,000, and fully one- third of this amount 
accrued from monopolies and imposts on trade and industry, that 
the British Government has very properly abolished; so that, 
although we took over the country at a very great disadvantage, 
we have already raised the revenue, by healthy and legitimate 
means (excepting the excise), to an amount equal to what it ever 
was befoi-e. There can be no doubt that a career of prosperity 
awaits Upper Burma, and that the steady increase in the revenue 
indicates that it has already entered upon that career. The 
testimony of the revenue officers is that it is, as a rule, collected 
without difficidty, and that the taxation does not fall at all 
heavily on the people. The chief item is a kind of capitation or 
household tax, averaging 10 rupees per house per year. This 
is levied as a lump sum on each village, and the payment 
is distributed amongst the families of the village, according 
to their means and circumstances, by a committee of village 
elders — a method they are accustomed to, and that seems to 
work well. 

The administration of justice is one of the fundamental duties 
of Government and one of its chief functions. Our Govt-rnment 
undertook this duty amid special difficulties and drawbacks ; for 
not only were crime and disorder very general, but there was a 
great paucity of officials with the necessary experience of the 
country and knowledge of the language, to fill the subordinate 
grades of the Civil Service, and to act as magistrates. It must 
have been no easy task to administer justice at once over an area 
as large as France. Great progress has been made during the 




five years, and the various courts of justice have long been in 
good working order after the methods of India. 

The adaptation of a regular system of criminal law, as laid 
down in the Indian Penal Code, with British principles as regards 
evidence and procedure, with all our well-known safeguards of 
the rights of the subject and the dignity and sanctity of law, 
must be a great improvement on the old haphazard Burmese 
system, and must afford far greater protection to the innocent, 
and a greater pi-obability of detecting and punishing the guilty. 
In point of impartisility and freedom from corruption, too, there 
must be a great change for the better. Since the country has 
begun to thoroughly settle down, and the necessity for a speedy 
and summary decision in criminal cases is no longer felt, a 
Judicial Commissioner has been appointed for Upper Burma, a 
trained civilian of high position and experience, whose duty it 
is to revise the proceedings of the subordinate courts, and, if 
necessary, alter the findings. This precaution Government takes 
to ensure that the eases shall have full and mature consideration, 
and that in the name of justice, justice shall be done. 

An illustration of the improved methods of legal procedure, 
after Westei'n models, introduced under the British administration, 
is the compulsory registration of deeds relating to immovable 
property. This measure operates to prevent fraud and secure 
and simplify titles. The deed being registered, and a copy of it 
being kept in Government records, forgeiy and other methods of 
cheating are made far more ditlicult. Under the Burman rule 
deeds were not used, the theory being that all property belonged 
to the king. It can readily be imagined what confusion of title 
resulted fi-om that primitive method, and how necessary it was 
to malve enactments that should minimise the risk of fraud, 
dispute and litigation. 

The survey of the whole country has made good progress. 
Year by year, despite the disturbed state of the country, and 
the consequent danger of travelling, survey parties have been 
diligently employed in that important business. Triangulation 
has been carried over 84,000 square miles, and the whole country 
has been mapped on a scale of four miles to the inch. 



Experimental farming is, in Upper Burma, a new undertaking 
which necessarily falls to the lot of Government, in the absence 
of the requisite knowledge and enterprise on the part of the 
people. With a view to increasing the products of the country, 
and bettering the position of the people, an experimental farm 
has been established in the Shan States. Various products, new 
to Burma, are receiving a trial ; for instance, English fruit trees 
on some of the hill stations, and at various other places potatoes, 
American maize, wheat, barley, and English garden vegetables. 
The successful introduction of some of these new products may 
mean a great deal for the prosperity of the country. Attention 
has also been paid to the rearing of cattle, sheep and horses, and 
veterinary assistants are employed, at the expense of Government, 
in combating cattle disease, and their work has given satisfaction 
to the people. 

There is no branch of the public service for which there is 
more need in a new country than that of the Department of 
Public Works. A country recently come under British rule 
presents a wide field for the talents and energies of the civil 
engineer. The principal public works of the Burmans consisted 
of the construction of reservoirs for that great necessity of life, 
water, both for drinking purposes and for irrigation, and the 
formation of channels for conducting the water to tlie fields. 
These works were found only in a few favoured places, and 
though not finished in first-rate engineering style, exhibited no 
small amount of ingenuity and skill. Beyond this their engineer- 
ing manifested itself rather in religious edifices than in works of 
general public utility. 

There was therefore great need to supplement what the Bur- 
mans had left lacking. The country was without a single good 
road. Even in Mandalay itself there was not a road worthy of 
the name. Now some hundreds of miles of good road have been 
constructed, the streams bridged, and communications opened up 
on the principal lines of travel. An extensive system of new 
irrigation works is under construction or in contemplation. In 
every principal station barracks for the soldiers and the police, 
and jails have been built, and in every town, market houses, court 



houses, public offices and hospitals provided ; so that already there is 
not a town of any considerable size which does not show abundant 
outward signs of the change which has come over the country. 

Railways were of course unknown in Upper Burma before the 
advent of British rule ; and they are likely to prove a powerful 
stimulus to the development of the country. There was a line 
of railway already finished in Lower Burma from Bangoon to 
Toungoo, 166 miles, and the extension of this line to IVIandalay, 
220 miles farther, was one of the first great public works pro- 
jected. It was sanctioned in November 1886; the survey was 
pushed on and completed by the summer of 1887; the work was 
begun on each section as soon as the estimates were sanctioned ; 
and so rapidly was the work carried on that an engine ran 
through from Toungoo to Mandalay by May 1st, 1888. The 
line was finally completed and opened for traffic in March 1889. 
The cost was a little over twenty millions of rupees. 

At the beginning the work practically lay through an enemy's 
country, but survey parties and working parties were carefully 
guarded, and no successful attacks were made upon the many 
thousands of labourers on the work. The construction gave em- 
ployment and wages to a large number of Burmans, at a time 
when the labouring classes would have been otherwise in great 
straits. The finding of honest remunerative work for so many 
people was, in itself, a great check on dacoity. Since the railway 
was opened the districts through which it runs have been the 
quietest in Upper Burma, although previously so greatly disturbed. 

From every point of view this first introduction of railways 
into Upper Burma must be pronounced a great success. From 
the very first this line paid its working expenses, and in conjunc- 
tion with the rest of the state railways in Burma, 4 per cent, 
on the capital invested. If it could do that at the outset it will 
do much more when other railway extensions are carried out, 
and roads are made as feeders to the traffic. To all this must 
be added the great convenience it affords to the public and to 
Government, and the impulse it gives to commerce, besides its 
strategic importance from a military point of view. 

Encouraged by this result, another line, called the Mu Valley 



extension, is already well on towards completion. It starts from 
Sagaing, on the opposite side of the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, 
proceeds in a northerly direction, and will ultimately go as far 
as Mogaung in the far north of the country, some 300 miles 
from Sagaing. The laying of this line through the territory of 
the semi-independent little state of Wuntho was the last straw that 
broke the back of the loyalty of the sawbwa. From the first 
he had been awkward, and had given trouble, but the prospect of 
having a railway through his dominions was too much for him, 
and he broke out into open rebellion. There was nothing for it 
but to put down the insurrection, annex his petty state, and 
administer it. Civilisation and the general welfare cannot be 
expected to come to a standstill at the bidding of an ignorant 
little chieftain like Wuntho. 

Another extension of tlie Mandalay line, from Meiktila to 
Myingyan on the Irrawaddy, is about to be taken in hand ; and 
a second and more detailed survey is shortly to be made for that 
very important extension from Mandalay up to the hills, and 
across the Shan plateau in a north-easterly direction, to open up 
the rich Shan country, and eventually, in all probability, to con- 
nect Upper Burma with Yunan, the great westerly province of 
China, with eleven millions of inhabitants. 

Eailways bring new life to a country like Burma, and arouse 
men from the sleep of centuries. They pay well ; they civilise 
the people by bringing together, in an amicable way and for their 
mutual benefit, races and tribes that formerly were enemies; 
they render it easier to get an honest living than to live by 
robbery ; they not only stimulate trade, they create it ; they 
help to solve the difficulties of demand and supply in the labour 
question, by making it clieap and easy for the people to get to 
and fro; and when times of scarcity and famine come round, 
they enable the Government to cope with them, and prevent or 
mitigate their horrors. 

The post, the telegraph and the telephone, which are now 
amongst the necessities of civilised life, have all been established 
in Upper Burma, and are now in thorough working order. In 
fact, so civilised has Upper Burma become, that a movement is 



on foot for a private company to lay down several miles of tram- 
way in the streets of Mandalay, and start a service of trams ; 
and another scheme has been submitted for lighting the principal 
streets with electricity. 

A government in an Oriental country, to be successful, must, 
before everything else, be strong, and nothing contributes more to 
this than an efficient police. At the outset, the establishment of 
order was largely a military work, and the brunt of it rested on 
our British and Sepoy troops. But gradually as the country 
settled down, the troops were reduced, and the police took over 
the work of keeping order. Here was considerable scope for 
organisation. In most of the countries where English rule has 
been established, we have managed to organise a police out of 
the materials the country supplied. But the Burmans do not 
prove very tractable for this, so that whilst there has been special 
need for a strong police to keep matters in order, it so happens 
that we have a people specially wanting in the qualities necessary 
for this work. The police officers complain that the Burmans in 
the force " cannot be trusted to oppose a larger force of dacoits, 
or to do sentry work." The Barman finds great difficulty in 
submitting to discipline or carrying out any regular routine 
whatever in a reliable manner. He loves to have his own way, 
to feel free to come and go just when he likes, and generally to 
go on in a careless and casual manner. 

After the annexation of Pegu in 1853, an attempt was made 
to raise a military battalion of Burmese. By an unintentional 
irony it was called " The Pegu Light Infantry." It was found 
that they were altogether too light and lacking in the spirit of 
discipline ever to make good soldiers, and the Pegu Light Infantry 
was accordingly disbanded. 

For this reason Government has had to look elsewhere for its 
police, and they have been recruited chiefly from amongst the war- 
like races of Northern India, with a sprinkling of Burmans, who 
are necessary for the detection of crime, and for such work as 
their knowledge of their own people and language the better fits 
tliem. During the troublous times of 188G-89 there has been a 
force of twenty thousand civil and military police, about two- 



thirds of whom were natives of India. But as the number of 
crimes of violence decreases, it becomes possible greatly to reduce 
this number. 

Of all the numerous innovations on Oriental methods of 
government which we have introduced, that of local self-govern- 
ment, as applied to municipaliti-es, is perhaps the most noteworthy, 
not for what it does at present, but for what it leads up to. 
This little seedling of reiwesentative government we are sedu- 
lously planting everywhere throughout our Indian Empire, and 
nurturing it with patient arid sympathetic care ; and he would 
indeed be worthy of the name of prophet who could say where- 
unto it will grow. Never under any Indian or Burmese rule was 
there a vestige of representative government, but we think it 
well to train them up to it. 

The schoolboy in India has the History of England put into 
his hands, and there he learns what Englishmen think of liberty 
and self-government ; and he finds that the ruling power has 
broadened down in the course of ages from the one to the few, 
from the few to the many, and from the many to the whole 
population, who now really govern themselves. Our British 
policy is to organise municipalities in every considerable town. 
We, the governing power, call together a native municipal com- 
mittee, as representative as we can make it by nomination, and 
then we say in effect, " Now we have called you in to consult with 
us, the leading English representatives of government, and by 
your votes to show your opinions on such questions as the clean 
ing, the lighting, the paving, and the sanitation of the town, its 
water supply, the regulation of its markets, and a number of 
other local matters, and we ask you to vote supplies of money 
for these things, and to levy taxes and rates accordingly." 

All these things are matters of course to the Englishman in 
his own country, and if any of them were conducted without con- 
sulting him through his elected representatives, he would soon 
want to know the reason why. But not so with the Oriental ; 
they are to him innovations of an unheard-of character. Neither 
he nor any of his forefathers were ever asked to do such a thing 
as vote before. It is no wonder, therefore, if our worthy native 



citizen takes his seat as he is bidden in the municipal conncil- 
chamher of his town, bewildered at first with this unwonted ex- 
perience, voting to the best of his ability as he thinks the worthy 
president, the English Deputy Commissioner of the district, 
would desire him to vote. But in course of time he comes to see 
what it all means, for the Oriental is by no means deficient in 
perception. He* sees that the measures proposed and carried 
affect him and his kindred and his neighbours, and he begins to 
see that a voice and a vote mean power, and that these are 
questions which touch his pocket and circumstances. 

By-and-by the people find that the municipal ordinance 
provides for the expression of their opinions in a more direct and 
effective way. The rule is, that " as soon as any town desires to 
elect its members it is permitted to do so." In many towns in 
India they ai'e now elected. We have in Upper Burma seventeen 
municipalities, but in no case yet is there any election of members ; 
they are all appointed by nomination. The cliange from the full- 
blown doctrine of the divine right of kings, in its completest form, 
to representative government, is too sudden for them to realise 
where they are as yet. But it will come. All the teaching we 
give them, both by precept and example, is in effect this : that 
the true ideal of (jovernment is (jovernment hy the jjeople, and that 
all other forms of (jovernment are only tempm^ary expedients leading 
up to it. 

We cannot wonder if in time they follow the path where it 
logically leads them to a wider outlook than merely municipal 
affairs. " If in municipal why not in national affairs ? " they will 
naturally ask. The National Congress in India is the natural 
sequence of all this. It is the feeling after some arrangement or 
institution that shall give effect to the will of the people, on many 
more matters than they are at present consulted upon. It may 
be silly sometimes, and selfish, and reactionary, and stupidly con- 
servative, and childish, but whatever its faults, its follies, and its 
weaknesses, it is at all events our own bantling, the child of oui* 
own careful nurture and instruction. It is no use our attempting 
to frown it out of countenance ; what we have to do is to take it 
by the hand, and guide it until it reaches years of discretion. 




WE have seen how much there is to admire and to be proud of 
in the capacity and skill of our nation as the great ruling 
power in India. One cannot have dwelt in Upper Burma during 
the last few years without observing how sincerely our ruleis 
have sought the welfare of the people, and how ably they have 
secured it. The liberty of the people, their freedom from oppres- 
sion, the greater security for life and property all over the 
country, their general comfort and well-being, the introduction 
of a far better system of law and justice than ever they knew 
before, the development of the resources of the country, and 
the general prosperity that has ensued, are results well worth 

But the countenance given to the sale and consumption of 
intoxicants, and the growth of these vices under our rule, when 
we ought to be so well able to discourage and check them, are 
very grave defects ; and it is this matter I propose in this and 
the following chapters to discuss. This is just now a question 
which is receiving much attention. It is not a case for heated 
controversy, or for calling ill names, but for calmly and dispassion- 
ately looking the facts in the face, and asking ourselves in the 
sight of God whether we are doing right, or whether there is not 
a more excellent way. 

A special and peculiar interest surrounds this question, owing 
partly to the fact that the new province was so recently annexed, 
and our policy is not as yet finally fixed ; partly to the delicate 




and anomalous position in which we, as a non-abstaining race, 
find ourselves, in governing a race whose religion definitely enjoins 
total abstinence from everything intoxicating, and who earnestly 
desire that prohibition be continued as the law of the land ; and 
partly from the very disastrous effects which have been found to 
result from the policy we have been pursuing during the many 
years we have been ruling Lower Burma. 

On our annexing Upper Burma in 1886, we found the fifth 
commandment of the Buddhist religion, Thou shalt not take 
anything that intoxicates," was the law of the land, the only law 
on the subject the Burmans had ever known. On this point I 
quote no less an authority than a despatch from the Govern- 
ment of India to the Secretary of State, dated October 1886, in 
which are certain " Instructions to Civil Officers," and it is there 
stated that — 

" Burmans of all classes, monks and laity, very strongly wish 
that drinking shops and the habit of drinking should be dis- 
couraged in Upper r>urma. In the time of the late king traffic 
in liquor was altogotlier forbidden. No doubt there is some 
making and drinking of toddy, of rice beer, and even of spirits in 
Burman villages. But the sense of the better classes is against 
the practice. No revenue was ever raised by the late king from 
liquor, lest he should seem to be encouraging evil. And under 
the circumstances, it seems expedient to meet the wishes of the 
people by declining for tlie present to license drinking shops." 

It certainly did seem expedient, with the nation on its knees 
begging us not to inflict drinking shops upon them, to license no 
shops whatever ; and that not only " for the present," but to 
resolve never to allow any. If ever there was a case in this 
world for local option, which was overwhelmingly in favour of 
entire prohibition, surely it was there; and under such circum- 
stances the introduction of licensed liquor shops, on any plea 
whatever, was entirely unjustifia])le and uncalled for. But the 
document proceeds : — 

Where a real demand exists for liquor to be consumed by 
Europeans, Indians or Chinese, shops for the sale of spirits and 
of fermented liquors may be licensed." 


So it unfortunately comes to this, that because there are 
certain foreigners in the country with " a real demand " for liquor, 
the whole policy of the country is to be changed for their sakes, 
and an excitable, volatile people such as the Burmans, peculiarly 
liable to fall away through drink, are to be exposed to tempta- 
tions in their streets, in the shape of licensed liquor shops, such 
as they never had before, and such as it is well known multitudes 
of them will be quite unable to resist. It is true there is a 
clause in the law making it a punishable ofience for the holder 
of the licence to sell liquor, to Burmans. But what avails such a 
clause ? The shops are there with the liquor for sale ; that is the 
one all-important and damaging fact ; and as for that clause, 
it is in theory a glaring anomaly, and in practice simply a farce. 
Any Burman can get as much liquor as he wishes. 

A recent Government report fully admits this, and shows the 
futility of such a lame attempt to shield the Burmans from the 
effects of the temptations furnished by the drinking taverns 
established in their midst. 

"The licences for the sale of liquor and opium are intended for 
the convenience of the non-Burman population of Upper Burma, 
and the sale of either liquor (except tari) or opium to Burmans 
is prohibited by law. But there can be no doubt that the 
prohibition is in practice inoperative." 

Now observe how we have progressed with this business during 
the first few years of our rule. In Upper Burma, where, before 
we assumed the government, there never had been such a thing 
as a licensed liquor shop, and where drunkenness, when it did 
occur, was severely punished, there are now 175 licensed liquor 
shops, and Burmans are constantly under temptation to indulge. 
In Upper Burma, where there had always been every discourage- 
ment to the manufacture of liquor, there are now central dis- 
tilleries established, under Government patronage and licence, 
for the wholesale manufacture of spii-its, and one of these turns 
out, as the proprietor informed a friend of mine, 500 gallons a 

Bad as Burmese rule was, corrupt, weak and worn out, and 
badly in want of funds, it never sunk so low as to derive aDy 



revenue by the sale of licences, but now the excise revenue from 
liquor and opium licences is advancing by leaps and bounds. 

For the year 1887-88 it was 210,480 rupees 

1888- 89 „ 433,430 „ 

1889- 90 „ 541,700 „ 

It looks as though liquor and opium under the British Govern- 
ment were rapidly tightening their hold of the country, and it is 
quite time England made up her mind what she is really going 
to do in the matter, and whether she can reconcile this state of 
things with her notions of duty to a subject race. 

It is urged by the advocates of the present system that there 
was drinking before, even under Burmese rule. No doubt there 
was. With the materials all around in abundance in the products 
of the country, both for fermenting and distilling liquors, it is 
not to be supposed that alcohol was unknown. It was, however, 
a very uncommon thing amongst Burmans to drink, and it can 
allbrd no possible justification for licensing and thereby increasing 
the evil. 

It is also urged that it is impossible to do away with drinking 
entirely. " Prohibit it altogether," say they, " and it will still 
go on secretly." There scarcely could be a poorer plea than this. 
How many evils and crimes and vices there are in every country 
that cannot be entirely done away with, and yet no one in his 
senses would propose to license and regulate them on thn t ground. 
Our I'eply to this is that a Government can only do its best, and 
if, after we had done our best to discourage the drinking it still 
existed, despite all we could do, it would not be our faiilt. But 
if King Theebaw could do as much as he evidently did, with his 
w^orn-out methods of government, to keep his people sober, what 
might not we accomplish with the splendid machine of government 
we possess ? 

The last resort of the apologists for licensing intoxicants 
usually is that, good or bad, we are committed to the system, and 
cannot get rid of it without causing greater evils than what we 
now have. This is one of the arguments used with respect to 
India, but it fails altogether when applied to Burma, and has 


not a leg to stand on. We had every opportunity to have con- 
tinued the law of prohibition just as we found it, and the people 
earnestly requested us to do so, and we ought to have done it. 
Even now it is not too late to retrace our steps in that direction, 
for the present state of things is felt to be unsatisfactory, and the 
law cannot be carried out. 

Why cannot we end it by prohibiting the manufacture and 
sale of liquor throughout the country 1 If it be said that this 
would bear hardly upon the foreign residents, it may well be 
replied that the rights and 'liberties of foreigners ought not to 
prejudice those of the vast majority, the natives of the country ; 
and if that were the law, and foreigners did not choose to put up 
with it, they would have their remedy. No one is compelled to 
live in Burma. 

The pity is, that England should so lag behind in the matter 
of temperance reform. The Empire is inevitably increasing, yet 
England, by continuing to cling to. liquor as she does, fails in this 
respect to fit herself for properly carrying out her duty amongst 
the abstaining races that come within the sphere of our influence. 

The day is coming, as every one can see, when England's own 
liquor question must be effectually dealt with, for the mind of the 
majority of the English people is rapidly ripening for it. But in 
the meantime, the very painful, anomalous and inconsistent posi- 
tion we occupy in Upper Burma — a Christian nation establishing 
liquor shops in every centre of population, against the strongly 
expressed wishes of " all classes of Burmans, monks and laity " — 
is a humiliating proof of the need there is for this reform to be 
hastened at home, so that it may be faithfully carried out abroad, 
and that too before it is too late. 



IF the case of Burma in respect of liquor is serious, that of opium 
is more so. It presents in a vivid manner some of the most 
frightful evils of the traffic in this drug, and it shows clearly the 
gross inconsistency of any Christian nation, especially when it 
is the ruling power, deliberately introducing and maintaining 
such an evil and profiting largely in the revenue by it, when it 
is eating the very vitals of the subject nation that has implored 
us jigain and again to remove it. 

The whole question of the opium policy of our Indian Govern- 
ment in the East is now prominently under the view of the 
nation. Parliament has already declared in the abstract that 
our opium policy is indefensible, and the conscience of the British 
l)ublic, never quite easy on the subject, is at pi-esent feeling keenly 
about it. It seems not unlikely that the consideration of Burma, 
our latest, and in some respects our worst development of the 
policy, may greatly aid in shaping the views of the public on this 
question, and may decide us, at the earliest possible moment, to 
wash our hands of the whole sad business. 

It ought, in the first place, to be understood that the opium 
business is not like liquor in England, a matter of private enter- 
prise. It is one big monopoly of the Indian Government from 
first to last, and no one else is allowed to manufacture it. 
Government asstimes the entire responsibility for the growth, 
manufacture, sale and export of opium, and sells licences for the 
permission to retail it in British India. Government is the 



proprietor of the whole concern. The greater part of the Indian 
opium is exported to China, and there, as everybody knows, we 
added to our dehnquencies by compelHng the Chinese, at the jDoint 
of the sword, to allow us to import opium into China, to the 
lasting detriment and ruin of untold multitudes of that people. 
Some of the opium, a constantly increasing quantity, is disposed 
of in the different provinces of India, this part of the business 
also being under Government management and licence. 

As regards Upper Burma, the law we found on annexing the 
country was, and had ever been*, the law of prohibition. Govern- 
ment knew and fully admitted this. From the despatch already 
quoted of October 1886, it would appear at first sight that on 
taking over the country they had fully resolved to continue that 

" No shops whatever will be licensed for the sale of opium, 
inasmuch as all respectable classes of Burmans are against legal- 
ising the consumption of opium in the new province. . . . As the 
traffic in opium was prohibited under the Burmese Government, 
there will be no hardship in thus proscribing opium dealings." 

But the very next sentence goes on to make an exception in 
favour of Chinamen, to whom, and to whom only, it shall be 
lawful to sell opium, and this clause at once lets in the 

I know a small town in Upper Burma where a Chinaman 
obtained a licence to sell opium to his countrymen under this 
regulation, on his representing that there were two hundred of 
them in the town, when, as a matter of fact, there were not more 
than half a dozen. He meant, of course, to sell to the Burmans. 
I had this from the township officer, who knew all the circum- 
stances ; not, however, the officer who had helped him to get his 
licence. It is well known that the restriction is merely nominal 
and ineffectual, and the Government officers freely admit the fact. 
A recent Government officer of standing reports that — 

" The consumption of liquors and opium is theoretically confined 
to the non-Burman population. But there can be no doubt that 
a considerable amount of both finds its way into the hands of 




Of course it does. The temptations are there in the shape of 
licensed shops, and the tempters in the shape of cunning China- 
men with an eye to the main chance ; and so long as this is the 
case the Burmans will fall into the snare in ever-increasing 
numbers, for they are, like the Chinese, peculiarly liable to 
yield to the opium habit. The following is the testimony of Mr. 
Gregory, a gentleman who travelled through Burma to see for 
himself w^hat the facts of the case were; and whatever may be 
said by the apologists for opium against alleged exaggerations, I 
think we may, at any rate, receive the testimony of a Christian 
man concerning what he saw himself. I quote what he says 
of Upper Burma. It fully proves how ineffectual the restrictive 
legislation is, and how powerful the temptation : — 

" At Pyinmana I saw Burmans buying opium, and at the 
same place the abbot of the Buddhist monasteries and one of 
the chief monks both told me that large numbers of the Burmans 
smoked. One of them bitterly complained that, whereas in the 
late king's time he had power to stop these things, now he had 
none. At Yamethin, a prominent Burman official told me that 
there were numbers of purely Burmese villages in the neighbour- 
hood supplied with opium from the Yamethin centre. I myself 
sn w Burmans purchase 0})ium there. At Kyaukse I s«aw Bur- 
mans served with opium. At all three of the opium centres 
at Mandalay I saw opium served to Burmans. One of the Chinese 
managers told me that the prohibition was only nominal, and 
he expected that it would be shortly removed ' now that the 
Opium Act was getting into proper working order.' At one 
of the Mandalay shops I saw three Burmans being taught to 
smoke by one of the Chinese assistants. A fourth was lying 
insensible. At Katha I saw a number of Burmans smoking 
opium in their houses in rooms quite open and visible, close by 
the court-house. At Bhamo, in the far north, I saw Burmans 
in crowds buying opium at the Government centre." 

Thus this legislative expedient we pretend to have adopted for 
keeping the Burman from opium completely breaks down, and 
is a mere dead letter. Nominally we are carrying out prohibition 
as we undertook to do, but really we are tempting the Burmans 


to their ruin by means of the licensed shops. Time was when 
Chinese opium vendors in Upper Burma, when cauglit, were 
disgraced in every possible way, and even flogged and imprisoned. 
Recently Mr. Justice Grantham, at the Durham assizes, was 
trying the case of one miner who had caused the death of another, 
while the two were drunk together in the Colliery Tavern. The 
prisoner was found guilty. Upon this his lordship directed the 
landlord of the Colliery Tavern to take his place beside the 
prisoner in the dock, and the landlord having done so, the judge 
proceeded to tell him in plain terms that he (the judge) would 
have felt more satisfied if the jury, instead of finding the prisoner 
guilty, had found the publican guilty of causing the death of the 
deceased. He had served the deceased with liquor when he was 
drunk already, and had undoubtedly thus caused the man's 

The Burman king's way of looking upon opium vendors was 
the right way, and the judge's rebuke of the publican was well 
merited; the misfortune is that so few can see it yet. The 
Chinese wealthy opium vendors in Burma now ride in first-class 
railway carriages, and are put. forward into the honorary rank 
of municipal commissioners ; whilst in England we go further 
than this, and admit to the peerage the heads of the great 
bre^ving firms ! 

We have carried the exceptional, " grandmotherly " method 
of legislation to a very absurd length in Bui-ma, prompted on 
the one hand by our usual policy of regulating by licensing 
these vicious indulgences, and yet restrained by a natural horror 
for the mischief they do to the Burmese race, and by a well- 
grounded fear, founded on painful experience, that if we do not 
somehow keep the nation from liquor and opium, these vices will 
destroy multitudes of them. 

Liquor can be lawfully sold in Upper Burma to Europeans, 
Eurasians, natives of Incha and Chinese, but not to Burmans. 

Opium to Chinese only. 

Both liquor and opium may be sold to Burmans in Lower 

Gunja, a product of hemp, very intoxicating, and used largely 



by natives of India in their own country, is absolutely forbidden 
to everybody in Burma. 

The absurd and illogical in legislation could hardly go further 
than the British have gone in these complicated enactments. In 
view of all this one naturally inquires, If it be right to prohibit 
gimja, why should it not be proper to forbid opium 1 If opium 
ought to be kept from every race in Upper Burma but one, and 
they immigrants from a foreign country and a very small minority, 
why not go further and shut it out altogether 1 If liquor and 
opium are denied to Upper Burmans, why should they be allowed 
to the same race in Lower Burma, where they have done so 
much mischief 1 If liquor is bad for Burmans in Upper Burma, 
how can it be good for Europeans, Chinese and natives of India ? 

We should have entire prohibition of the opium curse in Upper 
Burma if it were not for the Chinese ; that lets in all the mis- 
chief. Why is this ? Why indeed, unless it is that having forced 
opium upon them in China at the point of the bayonet, we cannot 
for very shame withhold it from them in Burma, but must grant 
them the indulgence, at any cost to the inhabitants, lest wo 
become a byword and a laugliing-stock among the nations. There 
is no consistent standing place between total prohibition on the 
one hand, and the cynical tone adopted by the advocates of 
licensing on the other : " It comes to this, that if the Burmans 
cannot learn to use these indulgences in moderation they must 
take the consequences." 

If we persist in driving the Burmans to " take the consequences " 
God will surely require it at our hands. 

The further we go into the question the more does it demon- 
strate the utter futility of a vacillating, partial, halting policy 
like this our latest in Burma. There is nothing for it but to 
make that clean sweep of it which the Burmans have always 
requested we would, and to repent and do our first works, however 
late in the day it is for us to begin. A brief review of the history 
of the opium difficulty in our older province of Lower Burma 
gives emphasis to this view. 

There is no wonder our rulers should in the new province show 
some signs of compunction, and some feeble attempt to prohibit 


opium to the Burmans, with the dreadful experience of Lower 
Burma before their eyes. But they should have gone further, 
and made prohibition complete. Lower Burma is in the unenvi- 
able position of having the largest consumption of opium, per head 
of the population, of any of our Indian provinces. The quantity 
supplied by Government for the year 1890-91 was 54,205 seers 
for a population of 4,658,000. 

It is e^^dent from these startling figures that opium in Lower 
Burma has a history; and a sad and disgraceful history it is so 
far as our Government is concerned. I gather the following 
particulars from a publication issued by the Society for the 
Suppression of the Opium Trade. 

The provinces of Arakan and Tenasserim were annexed in 1826, 
and Pegu in 1853, and these three provinces formed what has 
since been known as Lower Burma or British Burma. 

There is satisfactory evidence that before these territories came 
under the British flag, the opium vice, though not absolutely 
unknown, was not prevalent. An official report, dated 1870, 
states that " Opium eating is not a Burmese habit ; it is a new 
vice." Another, dated 1856, says, " The use of this deleterious 
drug, strictly prohibited in Burmese times, has been considerably 
on the increase of late." The late Rev. C. Bennett of the American 
Baptist Mission said, "When I first arrived in the country in 
1830 opium was rarely used, and almost entirely confined to 
Chinamen. There were, however, a few Burmans who used it, 
•and they were looked upon by their countrymen as outcasts and 
worse than thieves." 

One of the earliest measures of the Indian Government was 
the establishment of shops to retail opium, with no restriction as 
to the number of shops. It was a notorious fact, and it was 
officially stated at the time by Government servants, shocked at 
the demoralising effects of the vice, that — 

" Organised efforts were made by Bengal agents to introduce the 
use of the drug, and to create a taste for it among the rising 
generation. The general plan was to open a shop with a few 
cakes of opium, and to invite the young men, and distribute it 
gratuitously. Then when the taste was established, the opium 



was sold at a low rate. Finally, as it spread throughout the 
whole neighbourhood, the price was raised, and large profits 

In the Excise Eeport for 1879-80, the district officer for 
Prome called attention to this growing evil in similar terms, 
and he gives the details of the way in which lads of twelve 
or fourteen years of age were allured to evil courses by having 
the opium supplied to them at first in a milder form. 

From time to time the Burmans expostulated with their rulers 
on this matter. The Chief Commissioner reported in 1865 : — 

" Last year a majority of the respectable Arakanese petitioned 
me, asserting that their own children and most of the young 
men of the country had become drunkards, and had acquired 
within a few years a craving for spirits and opium." 

Again, in 1880, a large deputation of the most influential 
natives of the town waited vipon Commissioner Aitchison, and 
presented a petition, describing in very forcible language the 
misery entailed on the population by opium, and praying that 
the traffic might be altogether abolished in Arakan. The peti- 
tioners suggested that Government should impose an extra land 
tax, in order to make up the deficit whicli would be occasioned 
by the loss of the opium revenue, a clear proof of their sincerity. 

In the report on the Administration of British Burma during 
1877-78, attention was called to the deterioration of the national 
character, and the increase of gambling, theft, dacoity and other 
crimes, as the result of the growth of the liquor and opium habits. 
A searching inquiry was instituted, and the result was the 
accumulation of a mass of evidence which was irresistible. The 
wonder was how any Christian Government could ever have 
established such an abominable system, and having carelessly 
established it, sliould have been deaf to repeated remonstrances 
during so long a course of years. A few brief extracts may 
be given to show the character of the reports. They are the 
testimonies of some of the highest British odicials, men well 
acquainted with the country, and responsible for what they said. 

Colonel D. Brown, formerly Commissioner of Tenasserim 
Division, dated April 18th, 1870:— 


" In this province the words an opium smoker or eater and 
a vagabond are, and have been for many years, synonymous. 
The old and respectable portion of our population complain much 
of our opium shops, and of the evils they bring on them. The 
sleepy, dreamy state of the opium smoker has a peculiar attraction 
for our people; they take to it, and after having acquired the 
habit, they cannot give it up ; their friends refuse to support 
them ; they steal, rob or murder, to get their food and their 
opium ; they often take to dacoity, and join a frontier band ; 
or, if they remain in the province, they end their days in jail, 
or a halter puts an end to their existence." 

Colonel E. B. Sladen, Commissioner of Arakan Division, dated 
September 13th, 1878:— 

" During my residence in Arakan, I have been impressed and 
made to feel and acknowledge, in opposition, I may say, to all 
previous ideas on the subject, that opium is becoming the scour (je 
of the country. The importance of the evil is this, that the 
addition to opium consumption is alarmingly on \he increase." 

G. J. S. Hodgkinson, Esq., Officiating Commissioner of Arakan 
Division, dated March 12th, 1879 :— 

There can be no conception on the part of Government of 
the fearful strides with which the demoralisation of the Arakanese 
portion of the Kyouk-pyoo district is progressing, mainly owing 
to the indulgence of the inhabitants in this vice." 

The following is an extract from a memorial j^resented by 
the leading natives of Akyab to the Chief Commissioner on 
March 13th, 1878:— 

"The consumption of opium is contrary to the religion of 
the people, and its baneful effects are telling markedly on their 
character, inducing enervation of both mind and body, unfitting 
them for the active duties of life, whereby the material progress 
of the countiy is retarded. Lands are thrown out of cultivation, 
those who should be engaged in agricultural pursuits becoming 
unfitted for work, and taking to idleness and bad livelihood." 

The Chief Commissioner sums up this extraordinary body of 
testimony in an unsparing indictment of opium in Burma, which 
leaves it no loophole of excuse. 



The papers now presented for consideration present a painful 
picture of the demoralisation, misery and ruin produced amongst 
the Burmese by opium smoking. Responsible officers in all 
divisions and districts of the province, and natives everywhere, 
bear testimony to it. To facilitate the examination of the evi- 
dence on this point, I have thrown some extracts from the reports 
into an appendix to this memorandum. These show that among 
the Burmans the habitual use of the drug saps the physical and 
mental energies, destroys the nerves, and emaciates the body, 
predisposes to disease, induces indolent and filthy habits of life, 
destroys self-respect, is one of the most fertile sources of misery, 
destitution and crime, fills the jails with men of relaxed frames 
l)rodisposed to dysenteiy and cholera, prevents the due extension 
of cultivation and the development of the land revenue, checks 
the natural growth of the population, and enfeebles the consti- 
tution of succeeding generations. That opium smoking is spread- 
ing at an alarming rate under our rule dot s not admit of doubt. 
On this point the testimony of all classes of oflicers and of the 
people is unanimous." 

A high official gentleman, Mr. Hodgkinson, the late Judicial 
Commissioner of Upper Burma, when Commissioner of the 
Irrawaddy District, wrote : — 

" A large revenue is secured to the Government by the present 
fsystem, but it is secured by sapping the very hearts' blood of 
the people, the better classes of whom most bitterly reproach 
LIS, and, in my opinion, very justly, for our apathy and mis- 
government in this matter." 

To sum up, the following facts are proved, beyond all manner 
of doubt; and criticism of them, though it may attempt to palliate, 
cannot explain them away : — 

1. The Burmans have strongly objected to any licensing of 
opium from first to last. 

2. In spite of their continued protests the British Government 
has thrust it upon them. 

3. The Burman temperament and constitution is found to be 
peculiarly liable to succumb to this temptation. 


4. Seeing and feeling the alarming growth of the evil, the 
Burmans have bitterly complained, and begged their rulers to 
remove the evil, but in vain. 

5. Officials in different parts of the province have faithfully 
reported these things, and their reports have been in print for 

6. The evil has gone on increasing to this day, and now has 
reached unprecedented proportions. In Lower Burma the excise 
revenue (liquor and opium) has increased 80 per cent, in the five 
years ending with 1890, whereas the increase of population has 
only been 22 per cent, for the ten years. The excise revenue of 
all India yields an average of 4 annas per head of the whole 
population ; in Lower Burma it averages 9 annas. 

7. And lastly, we are in danger of doing the same thing in the 
new province of Upper Burma unless we alter our policy. 

What is required for the removal of thLs evil is a complete 
reform. The feeble attempts at remedy so far have shown 
themselves to be useless. 

The first attempt at improvement was the closing of the 
greater part of the licensed shops in Low^er Burma. A good deal 
has been made of that by the upholdei-s and defenders of the 
present system. We are told that there is only one licensed opium 
house in Akyab, for instance. An eyewitness tells us that in 
forty-five minutes he visited fifty opium dens in that town of 
" only one licensed shop," and he was told that there are in the 
district not less than one thousand places where opium is sold. 
That one house pays 158,000 rupees (about X10,533) annually 
for licence duty. 

The system of high licences has been tried, and the price has 
been put up, until in Rangoon the price of the drug is equal to 
its weight in silver, but this makes little or no difference. 

Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the present Chief Commissioner of 
Burma, now proposes to make it penal to sell opium to Burmans 
in Lower Burma, as it is in Upper Burma, or for Burmans to be 
in possession of opium ; but this is merely trifling with the evil. 
If it is ineffectual in Upper Burma, what good is it likely to 



accomplish in the Lower province, where so many have acquired 
the habit ? 

These all stop short of an effectual dealing with the opium 
question ; they will avail nothing so long as the drug is within 
reach. The real remedy, I submit, is entire prohibition, and 
many officials of Government, of standing and experience, concur 
in this view. Let our Indian Government give up entirely, 
except for medicinal purposes, this iniquitous and disreputable 
business of manufacturing and supplying opium, and get rid of 
the guilt of it. " Native opinion," says Commissioner Aitchison, 
speaking of Burma, " is unanimously in favour of stopping the 
supply altogether, and no measures we could adopt would be so 
popular with all the respectable and law-abiding class of the 

Lord Cross has recently said : " It is not practicable to close all 
opium shops and to stop opium consumption so long as opium 
is grown in British India and in the native states." Quite so. 
No doul)t we shall have to take up the accursed thing by the roots 
to do it effectually. 

We are told that the consequences of this course would be very 
dreadful, but we have been told this in the case of every reform 
ever yet proposed, and the statement has ceased to frighten us. 
If we had the cordial support of the whole of the " respectable 
and law-abiding class of the population," no great harm could 
come of it. At any rate, the consequences could not then be 
worse than they are now. 



IN Burma there are in all some forty different races and tribes. 
These may be grouped into two classes. First, there are the 
Buddhist races, consisting of the more civilised peoples, the 
Burmans, Talaiiigs and Shans, the inhabitants of the best parts 
of the country, the rich and fertile plains and valleys of the 
great rivers, and the great plateau country to the east bordering 
on China. These races form the bulk of the population, have 
each a language and literature of their own, and far more of the 
arts and conveniences of life than their more barbarous neigh- 
bours. And secondly, we have the many spirit or demon- 
worshipping races, who have never yet become Buddhist — the wild, 
unlettered, uncivilised tribes scattered all along the mountains on 
Burma's frontiers, north, east and west. They have never got 
beyond that primitive form of religion which would appear to 
have been the earlier worship of all the races of that region ; 
and, far removed from the pathways of commerce, their barbarous 
condition remains much as it was centuries ago. 

These hill-races are very vai'ious. Bordering on Lower Burma 
are the Karens, now well known in the history of missions as a 
remarkable instance of the rapidly regenerating and uplifting 
power of the Gospel. Theirs is as cheering and striking a 
narrative as mLssionary annals afford. What Fiji has been to 
the Wesleyan Missionary Society the Karen mission in Burma 
has been to the American Baptist Mission. 

There are some fifteen or twenty tribes of them in all, more or 


Fovii yeahs in upper BUmiA, 

less closely connected, all supposed to be of the Aryan stock. 
There are different languages among them ; their unlettered con- 
dition naturally resulting in the multiplication of tongues and 
dialects, and the isolation of the many tribes contributing to the 
same result. 

The American Baptist Mission has done splendid work amongst 
the Karens. They found them, like all the other hill-tribes, with- 
out a trace of a written language. Into two of the Karen 
languages, the Pwo Karen and the Sgau Karen, the entire Bible 
has been translated, and quite a considerable literature has been 
produced. Degraded and oppressed greatly by the Burmans in 
the days of Burman rule, the Burmans quite needlessly regarding 
them and treating them as nothing better than animals, they 
were peculiarly amenable, as all races under similar circumstances 
are, to the kindly, beneficent message of the Gospel. Like the 
rest of the hill-tribes, they were utterly ignorant and addicted 
to drunkenness. But it has ever been found that the hindrances 
to the Gospel arising from a low state of civilisation are not for- 
midable in comparison with those which spring from the posses- 
sion of a powerful, well-defined, ancient system of religion such 
as Buddhism, which claims to have a philosophy which accounts 
for everything, and whose rites and observances meet all the 
wants of which its followers are conscious. It is part of the prin- 
ciple of compensation we find running through life, that " these 
things " — the mysteries of the Kingdom — are ever hid from " the 
wise and prudent, and revealed to babes." It is part of the 
mercy and wisdom of the Divine appointments, and it tends to 
give the uncivilised nations their fair chance. 

The following account of this interesting people, whose manners, 
language and worship are quite distinct from those of the Bur- 
mans, is from the pen of Mrs. Emily C. Judson, the wife of 
Dr. Judson, the first missionary of the American Baptist Mission. 

" They are a rude, wandering race, drawing their principal sup- 
port from the streams that flow through their valleys, and from 
the natural products of their native mountains. They migrate 
in small parties, and, when they have found a favourable spot, fire 



the underbrush, and erect a cluster of three or four huts on the 
ashes. In the intervals of procuring food, the men have frequent 
occasion to hew out a canoe or weave a basket ; and the women 
manufacture a kind of cotton cloth, which furnishes materials 
for the clothing of the family. Here they remain until they 
have exliausted the resources of the surrounding forest, when 
they seek out another spot, and repeat the same process. 

" The Karens are a meek, peaceful race, simple and credulous, 
with many of the softer virtues, and few flagrant vices. Though 
greatly addicted to di unkenness, and extremely filthy and indolent 
in their habits, their morals in other respects are superior to 
many more civilised races. Their traditions, like those of several 
tribes of American Indians, are a curious medley of truth and 
absurdity ; but they have some tolerably definite ideas of a Great 
Being who governs the universe, and many of their traditionary 
precepts bear a striking resemblance to those of the Gospel.* 
They have various petty superstitions, but, with the exception of 
a small division, they have never adopted Buddhism, the oppres- 
sive treatment which they have received at the hands of their 
Burmese rulers probably contributing to increase their aversion 
to idolatry. 

" Soon after the arrival of the first Burmese missionary in 
Bangoon, his attention was attracted by small parties of strange, 
wild-looking men, clad in unshapely garments, who from time 
to time straggled past his residence. He was told they were 
Karens ; that they were more numerous than any similar tribe 
in the vicinity, and as untamable as the wild cow of the moun- 
tains. He was further told that they shrank from association 

* Mr. Smeaton says in bis book, The Loyal Karem ^?^r?««, that Judson 
had lived seven years in llangoon, preaching the eternal God, before a 
single Burman would admit His existence, while the poor unnoticed Karens 
were continually passing his door singing by the way : — 

' ' God is eternal, His life is long — 
God is immortal, His life is long : 
One cycle He dies not, 
Two cycles He dies not, 
Perfect in great attributes, 
Age on age He dies not." 



Avith other men, seldom entering a town except on compulsion ; 
and that therefore any attempt to bring them within the sphere 
of his influence would prove unsuccessful. His earnest inquiries, 
however, awakened an interest in the minds of the Burmese con- 
verts; and one of them finding, during the war, a poor Karen 
bond-servant in Rangoon, paid his debt, and thus became, accord- 
ing to the custom of the country, his temporary master. When 
peace was restored, he was brought to the missionaries on the 
Tenasserim coast, and instructed in the principles of the Christian 
religion. Heeventually became the subject of regenerating grace, 
and proved a faithful and efficient evangelist. Through this man, 
Ko-Thah-Byu by name, access was gained to others of his cou^itry- 
men, and they listened with ready interest. They were naturally 
docile ; they had no long-cherished prejudices and time-honoured 
customs to fetter them ; and their traditions taught them to look 
for the arrival of white-faced foreigners from the west, who would 
make them acquainted with the true God. The missionaries in 
their first communications with the Karens were obliged to 
employ a Burmese interpreter ; and notwithstanding the dis- 
advantages under which they laboured, the truth spread with 
groat rapidity. Soon, however, Messrs. Wade and M.ason devoted 
themselves to the acquisition of the language, and the former 
conferred an inestimable blessing on the race, by reducing it to 
writing. This gave a fresh impetus to the spread of Chris- 
tianity. Tiie wild men and women in their mountain homes 
found a new employment, and they entered upon it with enthusi- 
astic avidity. They had never before supposed their language 
capable of being represented by signs, like other languages ; and 
they felt themselves, from being a tribe of crushed, down-trodden 
slaves, suddenly elevated into a nation, with every facility for 
possessing a national literature. This had a tendency to check 
their roving propensities ; and under the protection of the British 
Government they began to cultivate a few simple arts, though the 
most civilised among them still refuse to congregate in towns, and 
it is unusual to find a village that numbers more than five or six 
houses. Their first reading books consisted of detached portions 
of the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit gave to the truth thus com- 


municated regenerating power. Churches sprang up, dotting the 
wilderness like so many lighted tapers ; and far back among the 
rocky fastnesses of the mountains, where foreign foot has never 
trod, the light is already kindled, and will continue to increase in 
brilliancy, till one of the darkest corners shall be completely 

Since these words were written many years have passed away, 
and the process of the making and upraising of the Karens has 
steadily proceeded. In all the principal centres where they are 
found dwelling the Mission has flourishing churches and schools ; 
and they have been found at all times of unrest and insurrection, 
when violent crime has been rife, amongst the most loyal subjects 
of the British power in Burma ; and of late years, especially since 
the annexation of Upper Burma has been accompanied and suc- 
ceeded by a period of disoi'der, the British Government has learnt 
how surely it can confide in the loyalty of the Christian Karens, 
and what good service they can render in time of need. 

The following particulars, taken from the Encyclopciedia of 
Missions recently published, give interesting information con- 
cerning the Karen Mission in one of its chief centres. 

" The Bassein Sgau Karen Mission is the crowning glory and 
most perfect flower of the Karen Missions of Burma. Begun in 
1837 by the preaching of Mr. Abbott, who spent but five or six 
days there, the good work went on, entirely through the labour 
of native converts, and the circulation of books and tracts in 
Karen and Burmese, till in 1839 more than 2,000 were converted, 
though only one had been baptized. The fires of persecution 
raged fiercely; the converts were beaten, chained, fined, im- 
prisoned, sold as slaves, tortured, and put to death ; but not one 
apostatised. Mr. Abbott and the other missionaries were forbidden 
to enter Bassein under pain of death, and in 1840 he removed to 
Sandoway, Arakan, which was British territoiy, separated from 
Bassein by the Yoma range of mountains; and from there he 
and his associates managed the Karen Mission for thirteen years. 
In 1852-53 the missionaries and the Sandoway Mission were trans- 
ferred to Bassein. About 20 churches and 2,000 members went 




from Arakan, and in all there were 58 churches, about 6,100 
members, and nearly 5,000 converts not yet baptized. More than 
5,000 had passed away from Burmese cruelties, cholera and other 
pestilences, famine and exposure on the mountains. The whole 
number of converts up to that time had been about 16,000. 
Their course since then has been one of steady progress. In 
1854 the chui-ches became self-supporting, and missionary efforts 
for the heathen around them by the native evangelists were com- 
menced ; village schools wei-e established, and a town High School 
commenced under Mr. Beecher's efforts. The spiritual condition 
was improved; in 1866 all the schools were supported by the 
churches. Mr. Abbott died in 1854, and Mr. Beecher in 1866. 
In 1868 Mr. Caipenter took charge, and, while constantly striving 
for their spii-itual growth, he pushed forward educational measures 
and a thorough system of schools, culminating in the Ko-Thah- 
Byu Memorial Hall, till in twelve years this people, steeped to 
the lips in poverty, expended in the building, supporting and 
endowing of schools a sum equal to ^27,000, besides building 
their chapels, supporting their pastors, their village schools, and 
their native missionaries; and in 1875 and 1877 sent 1,000 rupees 
to the sufferers from famine in Toungoo, and to the perishing 
Telugus. Since 1880, under Mr. Nichols, they have continued to 
advance. They have endowed their High School, ' the best in all 
Burma,' with about ^10,000; they have 425 students of both 
sexes, a fine printing office, and an extensive sawmill and machine 
shop. Both board and tuition are free to those who can pass the 
examination. They have enlarged their great Memorial Hall, 
and built and endowed a hospital. The discipline of the churches 
is strict ; their pastors ai-e well and thoroughly trained ; tlieii" 
benevolence is maintained on a system which I'taches every 
member; and in their dress, furniture, domestic life and social 
condition, they compare favoui-ably with the country chui-ches 
in Christian lands. There are now in the Bassein Mission 89 
churches, and nearly 10,000 members, with an adherent popula- 
tion in their 85 Christian villages of about 50,000 souls." 

"There are in all Burma about 480 Karen churches, with 
about 28,200 members, and an adherent population of 200,000." 


Well may we exclaim in view of these facts and statistics, 
" What hath God wrought ! " Seldom, indeed, has such a record 
as this been possible, that in the short space of fifty years so 
lowly a people should not only embrace the Gospel, but should 
rise to the happy conditions of civilised life, and of educational 
and social progress, such as they enjoy. Most gladly do I add my 
independent testimony to the thorough success of this mission 
work amongst the Karens, as instances of it have come within 
my own observation. 

I have known intimately in Upper Burma, for years, Karens 
doing well in different walks of life — in the medical profession, as 
teachers, as clerks in Government offices, and as surveyors — who 
are as devout, upright and consistent members of the Christian 
Church as are to be found anywhere. I have sat and listened in 
Upper Burma with wonder and admiration to a concert consisting 
of classical English music, anthems, glees, choruses and solos, 
rendered by Karen young men and maidens from the High School 
at Bassein above mentioned, that would have afforded the greatest 
delight to any English audience, and would have been the rage 
of the season, if the same had been given with such perfect musical 
accuracy, sweetness and harmony in London or Manchester. I 
have been brought into close daily contact for two or three years, 
in the work of our own Mission, with two Karen young men, 
members of the Baptist Church in Lower Burma, who came to 
help us at the outset of our work, and I am able to testify that 
in regard to educational attainments, Chi'istian character and 
consistency, truthfulness, purity and integrity of life, I found 
them all I could wish. If I had never met with any other 
evidence of the kind, this alone would have been quite sufficient 
to prove the mighty power of Divine grace to uplift the lowest 
and the most degraded, if only the circumstances afford a fair 
chance and the Gospel be fairly presented. 

If few fields of missionary labour have yielded suph rapid and 
satisfactory results, it is because in few instances indeed have the 
social conditions and even the very traditions of a people afforded 
such a conjuncture of favourable circumstances as was the case 
with the Karens. In the case of the Mission of the same Society 



to the Biirmans and other Buddhist races of Burma, there has 
been no such strikmg and phenomenal success. There aie to-day 
twenty Karen converts to one Burman, and the work throughout 
has been in like proportion twenty times as hard in regard to 
obtaining success amongst the latter as amongst the former. 

The question of mission work in relation to successful results, 
and the tractability of different races in respect to the Gospel, is 
a very wide and complex question, that has never yet received 
the patient and intelligent study it deserves. People find it 
difficult to understand why, in the same Mission, Burmese work 
should yield such different results from Karen work, and why 
converts should be numbered by units in Benares and by thou- 
sands in Tinnevelly ; though they can see reasons, when it is 
brought home to them, why Cornwall should be a much better 
field for evangelical preaching than County Cork. And the 
conclusion is often too hastily reached in favour of some pet 
theory or method as against others. But a wider experience 
goes to show that though the right methods and the right men 
are essential to success, success on this large scale is far moie 
than a question of methods and men. It is largely a question 
of the circumstances in ivMch the peo])le are found. In the 
prosecution of missionary labours in different lands, and even 
amongst different races in the same countiy, the utmost diversity 
obtains in their conditions. 

We meet, for instance, with nations enjoying very ancient 
civilisations, like the Hindus and the Chinese ; some, like the 
Mahomedans, under the power of a religion which they hold 
with the utmost tenacity of enthusiasm ; others again, like the 
Buddhists, in proud possession of a philosophy and a literature 
that fully satisfies them. It is in such cases that the Gospel 
is confronted with its greatest difficulties. In conjunction with 
these conditions, others of a social character are sometimes found, 
that greatly increase the difficulties of the situation, as, for 
instance, where large communities are hedged round with the 
restraints of caste, which, while they secure them in the exclusive 
enjoyment of rank, influence and privilege, greatly cripple them 
in respect of liberty of conscience and conduct. To win people 


to the Gospel from such conditions has always been a difficult 
task, for it usually requires them to give up all that human 
beings ordinarily value most. 

But in the case of races like the Karens of Burma, the Pariahs 
and other low castes of India, and the negro slaves of the West 
Indies, Christianity finds human beings suffering from special 
disabilities, a lowly people, shut out, by the selfishness of those 
above them, from all the ordinary chances of bettering their lot, 
ill-used, oppressed, enslaved, kept in unlettered ignorance, deprived 
of all that makes life worth" living. When the Gospel messenger 
speaks to them hopefully of a better state of things, and holds 
out a helping hand, it is evident, even to their dark minds, that 
this is their one chance of improvement, both in temporal and 
eternal things. They have everything to gain and almost nothing 
to lose by embracing the Gospel, and the consequence is that 
the success of the Gospel amongst such races is usually rapid. 

Another class of races there is, consisting of tribes wild and 
barbarous, beyond the confines of civilisation, and from time 
immemorial left to themselves, whose state of primitive savagery 
precludes the possibility of any elaborate form of religion, quite 
unlettered, and without a written language. Such are many of 
the races of the interior of Africa, many of the hill -tribes of 
Asia, and the inhabitants of the groups of islands in Polynesia. 
Here, again, are found the conditions generally favourable for 
a rapid ingathering, notwithstanding their extreme barbarism 
and coarse brutality at first, amounting sometimes to cannibalism. 
For even the savage is conscious before long that he has some- 
thing to gain Ijy adopting the ways of civilisation. Where mission 
work has been conducted with perseverance in such countries it 
has always been successful. 

When we have fully recognised the mighty power of the Holy 
Spirit, to whose gracious influences we are indebted for all Gospel 
success, and when we have said all we have to say about different 
methods and men, the student of missions will still feel that he 
has not fully accounted for the marked diversity in the successes ; 
he must also take account of the social and economic conditions 
of the different races, when the Gospel addresses them, and the 



bold their own religions generally have upon their minds. For 
the Gospel is like every other force in the universe, whether 
moral or physical, in this, that it always proceeds with most 
energy along the track of the least resistance ; and he will find, 
if he carefully studies the matter, that the difficulties arising from 
social disabilities, and from a low state of civilisation, are not the 
greatest possible hindrances to the Gospel. 

In the approaching revival of missionary activity and enthu- 
siasm these questions are sure to receive more careful attention ; 
and when these problems come to be considered, Burma with its 
different races will contribute not a few interesting facts and 

The success of the Gospel amongst the Karens causes one to 
look wistfully at some others of the frontier mountain races of 
Burma. The religious views of all these primitive tribes are of 
much the same type, and their religious observances, what few 
they have, are similar. Their religion consists in the worship 
of nats or demons. They believe all nature is filled with nats ; 
every stone, and tree, and pool, and breath of air has its spirit 
inhabiting it ; and these nats are malevolent in their nature. 
Their religious observances consist not so much in worshipping 
them, as in propitiating them by means of offerings. They 
practise no regular system of worship, but consult the nats 
occasionally, whenever things do not go well with them, or when- 
ever there seems special reason to fly to the supernatural for 
guidance. Thus they have not much to chug to in the way of a 
religion, and their life and surroundings are so barbarous as to 
appear, even to themselves, obviously capable of improvement. 

In the north of Burma, on the mountains in the neighbour- 
hood of Bhamo, are found the Kachins, a warlike hill people who 
have, since the annexation of Upper Burma, given the British 
some trouble by their i-aiding propensities. Amongst them the 
bones of saciificed animals and other articles are placed outside 
the villages, to prevent the nats from entering in search of 
victims. It is believed that by this means their attention is called 
off. Some of the Kachins have taken to coming down from the 
hills and settling in Bhamo for work as labourers ; and a success- 


fill work is being carried on by the American Baptist Mission 

Since the annexation a good deal has been done in the way of 
exploring the country, and bringing to light interesting facts with 
regard to these barbarous tribes on our frontiers. Lieutenant 
E,. M. Eainey, Commandant of the Chin Frontier Levy, has 
published some interesting notes of his observations amongst the 
Chin tribes bordering on the Yaw country in the Pakokku 
district. The following facts are largely culled from his notes, 
many of them having been corroborated by what the writer and 
a missionary companion witnessed, in a recent visit to the tribe of 
the Chinbok Chins, living nearest to the district described. 

The Chins of that region consist of various tribes all more or 
less distinct in language, and to some extent in customs, the 
Weloung Chins, the Boungsh^s, the Chinboks, the Yindus, and 
the Chinbons. No less than eight different dialects are spoken 
by these tribes, the Chinbok language itself subdividing into 

There is no attempt at any system of laws or government 
amongst them, beyond the fact that they have something of a 
village system, and there are certain customs which all observe. 
Quarrels are wiped out with blood. Their religion, in common 
with that of all the other mountain tribes of the frontiers, con- 
sists in propitiating and consulting the nats. For this an animal 
must be slaughtered — a buffalo, a bullock, a goat, a pig, a dog, 
or a fowl. The slaughtered animal is always afterwards eaten. 
In consulting the 7iats they observe the direction in which the 
blood of the sacrificed animal flows ; this and similar omens are 
observed and acted upon. When raiding, or on a journey, or 
passing through a notoriously unhealthy jungle, sacrifices are 
frequently made, the animals being taken with them on purpose. 
Dogs are preferred for this object, as they follow, and require no 
carrying or leading. If the omens prove unfavourable they fear 
to carry out their purpose. Raids are frequently abandoned in 
this way at the last moment, and after they have travelled long 

If, when the omens prove unfavourable, the parties are 


nevertheless desirous of accomplishing their pui'pose, as for instance 
in the case of an intended marriage, the nats are periodically- 
consulted until they are favourable. This must always happen 
in time if they are only consulted frequently enough. 

The Chins are very much given to drunkenness, and are 
inclined to make of any and every incident a special occasion for 
getting drunk. A visitor, a birth, a marriage, a death, a case of 
sickness, are all possible and likely occasions for a carousal. In 
this worship of Bacchus they differ essentially from their Buddhist 
neighbours ; but they may fairly claim to resemble in that respect 
many individuals of a distant race, and a race laying claim to a 
far higher civilisation. They have a novel mode of drinking the 
rice beer they manufacture for these occasions. The liquor is 
stored in jars standing two feet in height, and half full of fer- 
menting grain. A hollow bamboo, the thickness of one's little 
finger, is thrust into the jar and pressed well down into the grain. 
The company sit round and take sucks in turn. 

Of medicine and surgery they know nothing. When they fall 
sick they make no attempt at medicine, but merely consult the 
nats to ascertain the result, and propitiate them to avert the 

Scarcely any clothing is worn by the men, and that of the 
women, though sufficient for mere decency, is scanty, the legs 
being entirely bare. They are all fond of ornaments. Necklaces 
of beads of all kinds are much worn, cocks' feathers appear in 
the topknots of the men, and a kind of brass skewer is worn in 
the hair. They are also fond of wearing deer's teeth and cowries. 
Telegraph wire, a new importation into their territory, forms a 
great temptation to them, inasmuch as a few inches of that 
metal, bent into a circle, forms a most becoming earring. 

Their weapons consist of bows and arrows, which they use with 
great dexterity. They often carry a short spear, and every man 
has a kind of weapon, which is dagger, knife and hatchet all in 
one, which sadly too often does murderous execution in their 
quarrels, and which, wlien not in use, is worn on the person 
in a bone scabbard consisting of the shoulder-blade of the 


Their cultivation, though of a very rude description, is a laborious 
business. They have first to fell the jungle on the steep slopes 
of the hills, and after some months, during which it has had time 
to dry, they burn what has been felled. The grain is then sown 
without further preparation. They can only cultivate in the 
same place in this primitive fashion for two years together. In 
the third year the grass has grown so strong that cultivation is 
impossible. They then usually leave the land for five years, 
during which the jungle again grows up, when it is again cleared 
and cultivated as before. -Their crops consist of rice and other 


grains, a considerable variety of yams and roots, including ginger, 
beans and vegetables, also cotton. 

The propensity of the Chins for raiding upon their weaker 
neighbours, and especially upon the Burman villages, is that 
which has compelled the British as the governing power to take 
account of them. Several military expeditions have had to be 
organised in order to punish this raiding, and to impiess upon 
them the fact that it cannot be allowed. Many are the tales of 
the sudden descents of the Chins upon the peaceful villagers in the 
plains, robbing them of money, cattle and other property, and 
taking away prisoners, who are removed to the Chin villages, and 
held to ransom. If not quickly redeemed by their people they 
are often sold from village to village, which renders it difficult to 



trace and recover them. Many of these unfortunate captives 
have been rescued through our military expeditions. 

Perhaps the most extraordinary custom they have is that of 
tattooing the faces of their women. The process is commenced 
when they are young, and is gradually completed. Although 
the result is hideous to our eyes, it is said that the beauty of a 
woman is judged by the style in which the tattooing has been 
done. Thus fashion rules the world despite appearances and 
common sense. The Yindu w^omen are tattooed in lines across 
the face. The Chinbons tattoo jet black, and are the most 
repulsive in appearance, though often fair-skinned. The Chinbok 
method is to have several lines down the forehead, the nose 
and the chin; and the cheeks are covered with rows of little 



THE greater part of the inhabitants of Burma are Buddhists. 
The Burman race are so universally, except in the cases 
where Christianity has gained a few. It is in Burma that 
Buddhism is found with the least admixture of any other religion, 
and where it is followed with a more thoroughgoing devotion 
perhaps than anywhere else. Even the Burman, however, has 
never discarded in spirit, or even in form, the indigenous nat 
worship of his far-off ancestors. It may have little of outward 
appearance, but it remains side by side with Buddhism to the 
present day. In their numerous popular stories the nats play 
a prominent part, the wicked ones performing all manner of 
mischievous pranks, the good ones appearing al> the opportune 
moment to succour the hero of the story, usually some 'paya- 
loung,'^ or incipient Buddha, for the moment in peril through 
the trials that have befallen him. 

This hankering after the nats is a significant fact. There is 
no God in Buddhism, and yet a man must have a deity or deities 
of some kind. The elaborate philosophy of Buddhism may occupy 
the intellect, and dominate the religious life, but it cannot satisfy 
this natural craving in man for God. Hence the worship and 
the fear of the nats, and the many superstitious ceremonies to 
propitiate them. And hence, too, if we mistake not, the strong 
tendency to plunge deeply into the occult, and to claim intimacy 
with the world of spirits, which characterises those Europeans 
and Americans who have discarded Christianity, and have devised 




for themselves a system fashioned on the basis of Buddhism, for 
their light and guidance. 

Buddhism has been well described as "A proud attempt to 
create a faith without a God, and to conceive a deliverance in 
which man delivers himself." Gautama, the future Buddha, and 
the founder of the Buddhist religion, was born at Kapilavastu, 
a town about one hundred miles from Benares, about 500 B.C. 
HLs father was the ruler of the Sakya tribe. Gautama early 
showed a disposition for a retired, studious, ascetic, contemplative 
life. His father wished to see him fit himself for the career of 
a prince, and heaped upon him every luxury, but in vain. At 
length we find the young prince, after many struggles between 
family affection and his view of duty, secretly by night leaving 
his home of luxury, his wife and child, exchanging his dress for 
the garments of a mendicant, and commencing his long quest 
after truth. Six years he spent in fastings and acts of penance. 
Then perceiving that mere ritual could bring him to no new 
conceptions of truth, he changed his method, and set himself to 
devise that system of philosophy which to this day is associated 
with his name. 

The ethics of Buddhism are grand, and for its noble conceptions 
of man's duty it well deserves the title of the finest system of 
heathenism ever devised by man. But it fails altogether as a 
moral power. The account it gives of man's nature, and the 
problem of life generally, though very elaborate, is erroneous and 
misleading. It knows nothing of a Divine Creator and Father, 
a Div^ine Saviour, or a Divine Regenerator. It proclaims no 
God, offers no Gospel of glad tidings, enjoins no prayer (in our 
sense of the word, as petition), sets forth no sacrifice for sin, 
holds out no hope of Divine help, no saving grace, no pardon, 
no renewal. Man must work out everything by his own en- 

For forty-five years Buddha lived to preach his doctrines, 
winning many converts, and he died at over eighty years of age 
greatly revered. 

That Buddhism is an uninspired system of teaching is most 
clearly indicated by its attempts at natural science. We need 



nothing more than a glance at these absurdities to dispose at 
once of Buddha's claim to omniscience. His geography followed 
that of the Hindus, and was no improvement upon it. Its only- 
virtue is that it is very liberal with numbers. It has its 
countless worlds, in the centre of which is the mountain called 
Maha Meru, 1,344,000 miles in length, the same in breadth, the 
same in depth beneath the sea, and rising to the same height out 
of it. Its teaching upon such matters as eclipses, earthquakes 
and the like, consists of the wildest of guesses. 

It may be well to give the reader a brief outline of the religious 
tccichings of Buddhism. Buddhism denies the creation of the 
world. Matter is eternal, and all the changes attending it are 
caused and regulated by certain laws co-eternal with it. Matter 
and its laws are not under the control of any being. Hence 
creation and a creator are out of the question. 

With such a formidable list of negations to begin with, it 
becomes a matter of no small interest to inquire out of what 
materials this vast system could possibly have been constructed. 
First, then, we have the Buddhist ten commandments. Five of 
these are binding upon all : — 

1. Not to take life. 

2. Not to steal. 

3. Not to commit adultery. 

4. Not to lie. 

5. Not to take that which intoxicates. 

The other five are applicable only to the monastic order : — 

6. Not to eat after midday. 

7. Not to attend theatrical amusements, or dance, sing, or play 
on a musical instrument. 

8. Not to use garlands, scents, or cosmetics. 

9. Not to stand, sit, or sleep on a platform or elevated place. 

10. Not to receive gold or silver. 

Besides these precepts there are many minor regulations, some 
of them enteiing very minutely into the life of the laity, and 
others the monks. There are rules for the conduct of parents 
and children, pupils and teachers, husband and wife, friends and 
companions, masters and servants, laymen and the religious 



order ; in fact, considering the light Gautama possessed, the moral 
teaching of Buddhism is of a very high order. 

But what about the means of attaining to moral excellence ? 
Here Buddhism, it must be confessed, is found wanting. To 
conceive of a high state of moral excellence is manifestly better 
within the reach of man's unaided mind, than to find out a 
way for the bulk of mankind in their frailty and sinfulness to 
reach it. 

In order to place before the reader any intelligible view of the 
Buddhist way of salvation, it is essential that we consider first its 
teaching concerning the nature and circumstances of man. 

Buddhism is thoroughly pessimistic in its outlook. It teaches 
that life is a misery, existence an evil. This doctrine is taught 
in the sacred books with a wealth and ingenuity of illustration 
worthy of a more gay and festive theme. The sentient being is 
" like a Avorm in the midst of a nest of ants ; like a lizard in the 
hollow of a bamboo that is burning at both ends ; like a living 
carcass, bereft of hands and feet, and thrown upon the sand." 
All beings are " entangled in a web of passions; tossed upon the 
raging billows of a sea of ever-renewing existences ; whirling in a 
vortex of endless miseries ; tormented incessantly by the stings 
of concupiscence ; sunk in a dark abyss of ignorance ; the wretched 
victims of an illusory, unsubstantial and unreal world." 

It is true these views of life do not seem unduly to distress the 
followers of Gautama. Tlie Burmans, the best of Buddhists, are 
as merry and laughing a people as are to be found anywhere, and 
the burden of life rests not more lightly upon any people than 
upon them. Nevertheless such is the teaching. " Anaiksa, 
Boakka, Anatta" is the formula in Burmese: "Transient, 
Sorrowful, Unreal." The monk muses on this in his monastery. 
The pious Buddhist repeats it to himself as he spends his spare 
time smoking and meditating on the bench at his door, or strolling 
idly about, telling off the beads of his rosary the while. 

Seeing that life is necessarily a misery, and existence an evil, 
the problem of life would seem to be how to bring existence to an 
end. The Christian would say wait for the release of death, but 
two formidable difiiculties stand in the way, to prevent death 



proving any release — namely, Transmigration and Karma (Bur- 
mese Kan). 

Transmigration constantly renews sentient existence in a count- 
less succession of births and lives. Hence the polite form of the 
announcement of a death is that the deceased has " changed his 
state of existence," that is, put off one existence and taken on 
another. This is not merely a polite form of speech, but more 
correctly embodies the popular belief than the mere statement 
that he has " died." Moreover, in future births man may rise 
and fall in the scale of existences ; and as human life and animal 
life are considered to be of the same nature, no difficulty is 
experienced in readily believing that a man may become an 
animal, or an animal may become a man in future births. Hence 
the scruple against taking any kind of animal life amongst the 
Burmans, extending even to vermin. Supposing transmigration 
to be true, it follows that if one kills any animal, large or small, 
even the smallest insect, he may be taking the life of his deceased 
grandfather, who has thus reappeared in the body. 

This universal belief of the Buddhists in transmigration was 
curiously illustrated quite recently in a court of justice in Burma. 
A mother and her son came one day to the magistrate of their 
district and expressed a desire to institute a suit. The case for 
the son, who was the plaintiff, was as follows. Some years before, 
a certain man, it was stated, had left in charge of the defendant 
some jewellery and a silk cloth for safe keeping. While engaged 
in repairing the roof of a house he fell off and died of the injury. 
The jewellery and cloth remained in the hands of the defendant, 
and the suit was now instituted to recover the same. 

What was the ground for this claim ? Not that this boy or his 
mother were related to the deceased, but that the boy was that 
identical man in another birth. But how could he prove it ? 
There was no difficulty in proving this, at least to the satisfaction 
of the Buddhists. The boy displayed upon his body certain marks, 
which those who knew the deceased said were precisely similar to 
marks he bore. The mother, by a comparison of. dates, sought 
to prove the date of the birth of the boy was just when it would 
be supposing his claim to be true. But the most convincing 



testimony of all was that the boy distinctly remembered the whole 
of the circumstances happening in his former existence ! The 
defendant admitted receiving the silk cloth, but denied all know- 
ledge of the jewellery. He admitted that he believed the boy 
was the very man who left the cloth with him, and was willing 
to return it if the boy paid a small debt of eight annas borrowed 
on it by the owner. The boy said he remembered the eight 
annas, but also insisted on the jewellery. Unfortunately for 
him his good memory did not avail him ; it was a British court 
of justice, not a Burmese, and the magistrate had to dismiss the 
case as extending to matters beyond his jurisdiction. 

Karma or Kan (Burmese), or Fate, as it is sometimes rather 
inadequately rendered, is that self -originating, self -operating, 
inflexible law which necessitates and causes the working out of 
the cumulative influences of merit and demerit ; these separately 
producing in succeeding births their full and appropriate effects, 
extending through cycles of ages, the Kan being modified from 
time to time by the passage through these different births. Thus 
Kan is not in any sense a Divine Providence. It is a blind 
impersonal force that attends our destiny through all the course 
of our many existences, and makes us to reap in other births 
what we sow in this. It may be compared to a balance. In the 
one side we are always putting in acts of merit, and in the other 
side acts of demerit, and the Kan goes on determining which 
preponderates, and blindly producing its appropriate consequences 
until each has worked itself out to the pleasant or the bitter end. 

Undoubtedly this doctrine is a bold expedient for explaining the 
apparent anomalies and wrongs in the distribution of happiness 
and misery in this life ; and although it is incapable alike of proof 
and of disproof, it fully satisfies those who can believe it. A child, 
for instance, is blind, — this is owing to his eye-vanity, lust of the 
eye in a former birth, — but he has also unusual powers of hearing ; 
this is because he loved in a former birth to listen to the preach- 
ing of the law. Thus the theory can always be made to fit the 
facts, for it is derived from them. But it satisfies the Oriental 
mind none the less for that, and it is the belief of millions of 
Hindus and Buddhists to-day. 



Nirvana (Burmese Neihhdn) is the state of complete deliver- 
ance fi-om further births and deaths. So long as existence lasts 
evil and suffering must continue, and there is no hope of blessed- 
ness until conscious individuality has become wholly eliminated, 
and the individual has arrived at that state where further births 
are no longer possible. This means practically annihilation ; but 
it is so much easier to do wrong than to do right, and it takes so 
long for Kan to work out its result, that Neibhdn becomes, by the 
ordinary way, so distant and so difficult of attainment as to be 
out of reach to the vast majority of the human race. 

If Buddhism ended there, and if nothing had been devised to 
relieve this strain of seeking after an all but hopeless and well- 
nigh impossible good, it would have been of all creeds the most 
pessimistic and miserable. The mind must needs have revolted 
from an outlook so gloomy, and we may safely affirm that it 
would in that case never have numbered its votaries by hundreds 
of millions as it does to-day. For it just amounts to this, that 
" Sin and its consequences follow man as the wheels of the cart 
follow the legs of the bullocks," and there is no Saviour and no 
salvation that he can seek outside of himself. 

But just at this point the doctrine of works of merit steps in 
and offers its hopes to the Buddhist, and seems to bring the 
attainment of future good at once within the sphere of 
the practicable. According to this, man can be continually 
improving his Kan by so-called works of merit, and he may 
hope, with comparatively little trouble, to make his merits 
outweigh his demerits, and thereby improve his lot in future 

See that row of waterpots under the shade of that great tree 
upon a dusty road, set upon a neat stand, with a neatly carved 
roof constructed over them, with a ladle to drink out of, and each 
of the pots covered with a tin cover to keep out the dust and 
insects. It is privately constructed and presented for public 
use, a work of merit ; all done to get what they are often thinking 
and talking about — koothoh. 

What is the meaning of all this lavishing on the monks of food 
daily, and various offerings, including almost everything except 



money, which they are under vows not to touch ? Answer, 
Tcoothoh. So with all alms and offerings to monks, to the poor, 
to dogs, or crows ; so with good works of every imaginable 
description. You may acquire merit by conforming to the 
ceremonies, by attending the festivals, by listening to the read- 
ing of the Law, by striking the pagoda bells, by buying and 
lighting pagoda tapers, by plastering gold leaf on the pagoda, by 
contributing to the repairs of the sacred edifices, by showing lights 
at the festival of lighting in October, and by many, many ways. 
As might be expected, when the acquiring of merit is so important 
a matter, there are many avenues opened to it. 

Though of course you have not kept all the laws, yet if you 
have gone out of your way a little to do something more than 
keep one of them it gives you merit. The care for animal life 
offers great scope in that direction. An English soldier whilst 
fishing caught a tortoise and was taking it home, when a Burman 
met him, bought the tortoise for a rupee, and took it back to its 
native element. He would expect to gain merit by that. Men 
have been known to make a regular trade of snaring little birds 
in the jungle, and bringing them to the bazaar to sell to the 
merit seekers, who buy them merely to set them free. 

Many works of merit involve great expense, such as the digging 
of a well, the erection of a bridge, a zayat or rest-house, a monas- 
tery, a pagoda. Judging by the enormous number of these sacred 
buildings in Upper Burma, it would appear that this is a favourite 
way of seeking merit. The builder of a pagoda is honoured with 
a special title attached to his name, and he is understood to be 
in a fair way for Nirvana. This seeking after merit is practically 
the most predominant aim in Burmese religious life. 

So fixed is this belief in merit, that when the Burmans see the 
English so intent upon opening up the country, making roads 
and railways, metalling streets and lighting them, building 
hospitals and markets, constructing irrigation works, and carry- 
ing out a multitude of other necessary and useful efforts of public 
utility, they measure us by their own bushel, and remark that 
there will be great merit to the Government and its officers by 
means of these things. What other motive could men have for 



taking so much pains and trouble for the pubHc good, if not to 
accumulate merit ? 

In elaborating this law relating to merit, Gautama was prepar- 
ing the sheet anchor of his system. It is that mainly by which 
it abides, and retains its influence over its millions of followers 
until this day. 

Every false religion, however, whatever master mind designed 
it, must show, somewhere or other, its weak places. It is mani- 
festly a weak place in Buddhism that alms and works of merit 
may so easily outweigh whatever demerit may attach through 
real crimes and sins, and that, too, without any repentance or 
reformation on the part of the offender. This also makes the 
attainment of merit largely dependent on the pecuniary means 
and influence at the disposal of the individual. A work may be 
very easy for a king or a rich man which would be utterly impos- 
sible for a poor man. To the Christian mind this seems very 
unequal and unfair, but to the Burman it presents no stumbling- 
block. Supposing we do see great inequalities in money, or any 
other temporal advantages that men possess. Be it so. It arises 
from differences in their Kan^ and that depends on what took 
place in previous bii ths. One's Kan is not a thing to rail against, 
but to submit to. 

It might be thought that as Christianity is so evidently superior 
to Buddhism as a religious system, it should be an easy matter 
to get them to discard their religion and accept the religion of 
Christ. But this is very far from being the case. The superiority 
is not apparent to a mind sophisticated by a lifelong familiarity 
with only the one religion, and it is only, as a rule, perceived 
after a prolonged and impartial study and comparison of the two 
has opened the mind. This is the great reason for educational 
work. It is a very difficult matter to make the votaries of an 
elaborate system like Buddhism see the superiority of Christ over 
Buddha ; they are more than contented with what they have. 

Besides this, we ought to remember that Buddhism has every- 
thing on its side that tends to make a religion powerful and 
influential. It has a concrete existence, and very much of outward 
and visible form and appearance; it is in possession; it has 



numbers, a voluminous literature, a definite and consistent 
system of philosophy. It has plenty of popular observances and 
popular enthusiasm. It is cleverly adapted to man's natural 
desire to work out his own salvation. It is most powerfully 
sustained and buttressed in the regard and confidence of the 
people by its very numerous monastic institutions, which are 
recruited from all classes of the people, from the prince to the 
peasant, for every male Burman must be a monk, for a longer 
or a shorter time, at some period of his life. 



THE Burmans, like most nations of the East, are essentially a 
religious people, and pay great regard to the religious usages 
and institutions in which they have been brought up. 

Chief amongst these is the monastic institution of Buddhism. 
Buddha was not only a great philosopher and thinker, but a 
great organiser too, and he provided in the monastic system a 
social bond of union that knits the entire community together in 
the Buddhist faith. This is made more obvious by the fact that 
every male Burman must be a monk at some time in his life, for 
a longer or shorter period, otherwise the demerit attaching to 
him would so overbalance his merits, as to render it impossible 
for him ever to make any improvement in his future existences. 
His ill deeds would swell the sum of his demerits, but no act of 
charity or pious devotion would be recorded to his advantage. 
Hence, in Upper Burma, almost every youth dons the yellow 
robe and becomes a monk. It may be for a week, a month, or 
a season or two, or it may be for many years, or it may prove to 
be lifelong. The longer they stay in the monastery the more 
sanctity attaches to them. But the Buddhist monk, unlike some 
other monks, is at liberty to terminate his monastic vows at 
pleasure, and return to ordinary life. The monks reckon the 
continuance of their monastic condition by the number of Wahs 
spent in the monastery, the Wah being the annual recurrence of 
a kind of Buddhist Lent, extending from J aly to October. 

This recruiting of the monks from the entire population — so 




different from Hinduism, which acknowledges a rigidly exclusive, 
priestly caste — immensely strengthens the hold Buddhism has 
on the people, and widens the popular basis upon which it rests. 
In my missionary life amongst the Hindus in Ceylon, I have 
observed in reading and expounding the parable of "The Good 
Samaritan " to a heathen congregation, a great readiness to apply, 
of their own accord, the cases of the Priest and the Levite, who 
passed by on the other side, to their own Brahmin priests, and they 
were always ready to take sides against them as quite a separate 
caste ; but there can never be the same alienation between monks 
and laity in a Buddhist land like Burma, where the monks are 
their own kith and kin. 

The monasteries are very extensively spread over the country. 
Mandalay, at the time of the annexation, was officially stated to 
have close upon 6,000 monks, and you can visit scarcely any town 
or village, however small or remote, which has not its monastic 
establishment. The monastery is always the best building in the 
place, and has the cleanest enclosure of any house in the village, 
and there is an air of sanctity and repose about it. The monks 
are very approachable. The stranger, whether native or foreigner, 
is always made welcome ; indeed, that is a characteristic of the 
Burmans everywhere, that they receive strangers freely and 
affably, and being fiw from those caste scruples so usual amongst 
the Hindus, one is not for ever fearful of transgressing their 
notions of propriety, or unwittingly hurting their dignity. As 
the monasteries are spacious, and often supplied with additional 
zayats or rest-houses, it will rarely happen in travelling that they 
will be unable or unwilling to assign the stranger some humble 
place of rest, where he may tie up his pony, eat his food, and 
spread his mat and pillow for the night. To the poor and destitute 
the monastery is a place of relief, where they can always hope to 
obtain a little food out of that which is daily given to the monks 
in their house to house morning visits. 

It must be frankly admitted that the monasteries of the country 
do a useful work in the way of imparting elementary education. 
To them is chiefly due the creditable fact that there are compara- 
tively few of the men who cannot read and write ; and this does 


much to bind the people to the support of the Order. But the 
education scarcely ever goes beyond the most elementary stage. 
They learn to read Burmese, and they learn to repeat a few Pali 
prayers and forms of devotion. Pali is the sacred language ; very 
few even of the monks understand the meaning. 

On the other hand, the monks' life is a very idle one They 
live in perfect ease, all their wants are supplied by the people, 
and they are not expected to work at all, except some of them at 
teaching. There are usually far more of them in the monastery 
than are required for that purpose, so that they spend a vast 
amount of idle time, and it is thought by many that the indolent, 
easy-going habits, and the lack of discipline and enterprise the 
Burmans display as a nation, is largely owing to the idle life of 
the monastery, which, is continually before their eyes, for there 
they receive their teaching when young. 

The Buddhist monk is not a minister of religion in our sense. 
He has no pastoral charge. He is for himself, and for his own 
deliverance, and the merit he acquires he shares with nobody. 
He may occasionally be called to attend this or that function, 
when the presence of a monk is customary, or he may expound 
the law occasionally, if he so choose, reciting some of the saci-ed 
writings for that purpose; but he undertakes no responsibility 
for, the guidance of the souls of others. In Buddhism a man 
must save himself, and nothing that a monk or any one else may 
do can alter the balance of his merits and demerits. Even if the 
monk be summoned to the couch of a dying man, as he is some- 
times, it is not that h« may Kpeak words of <5onsolation, or offer 
him the comforts of religion. It is merely that the presence of 
the holy man may drive away the evil spirits that would be liable 
to haunt the place on such an occasion. 

The habits of the monastic Order are very simple. In the 
morning, after the few Pali prayers have been uttered, the monks 
invariably go forth through the village, attended by the boys 
carrying the alms-bowls, to collect their daily food from the 
people. Not that they beg. There is no occasion for that. 
Their rules forbid them to ask ; and in going from door to door 
amongst their own people they do not ask. But privately, I 



must own, I have found occasionally amongst ■ the Buddhist 
monks of my acquaintance some of the most arrant cadgers I 
ever met with. Few, indeed, are the matrons who do not put 
something in the way of food in the alms-bowl. ISTor do they 
thank the people for what they receive. They would never think 
of doing so. In fact, the obligation is all on the other side. The 
monks are conferring a favour by giving the people the oppor- 
tunity to do this work of high merit by means of their alms. A 
useful hint, by the way, to collectors for good and useful objects 
in England ! 

In their walks abroad, and in the performance of such functions 
as bring them into mixed companies, many of the monks carry a 
large palm-leaf fan in their hands, in order that, as celibate 
ascetics, they may shut off the sight of feminine charms from 
their eyes. 

The education given at the monasteries is very poor, but the 
acquisition of any learning at all by the children is a matter for 
wonder, when we consider how poor the instruction is. What 
they do succeed in learning is not so much by means of teaching, 
as we understand it, but is almost entirely due to the system of 
noisy repetition of the lessons, at the full pitch of their voices in 
unison, in which all the children engage, the elder ones leading, 
and the younger following. For this reason the little learning 
imparted at these schools is of .'i mechanical sort, and lacks intelli- 
gence. Arithmetic is very low indeed. Geography, if taught at 
all, must of course square with the orthodox Buddhist cosmogony ; 
and as there is much that is doubtful about that, it is perhaps 
best left alone, and is accordingly. Burmese history is abundant 
in quantity, but in quality it only consists of what we call fiction, 
and has but a poor foothold upon fact, and is left out of the 
curriculum. All other branches of study are unknown, except a 
little of Pali in the form of devotions, which, however, is mostly 
taught in mere parrot fashion. 

The Director of Public Instruction in Burma told me a good 
story of his first visit to Mandalay. He had been calling on the 
gi'eat Thathanahine or Buddhist Archbishop of Burma, and had 
sought to impress upon that venerable ecclesiastic the desirability 


of improving the education given at the monastery schools. He 
mentioned arithmetic and geography as very desirable subjects 
to be taught, offering to supply teachers already trained and able 
to teach them. One of the attendant monks, an elderly brother of 
the yellow robe, remarked that for his part he could not see any 
great need for learning geography, especially now that the 
English Government had been good enough to construct a railway. 
" If you want to go anywhere all you have to do is to take your 
ticket and get into the ti-ain." Where was the use of learning 
geography ? 

The honour paid to the monks by the people is quite extra- 
ordinary. In the Burmese language the commonest acts of life as 
performed by the monks are spoken of with respectful expressions, 
which are never applied to similar acts as done by the common 
people. The oldest layman honours the youngest monk, and gives 
place to him. The ordinary posture before a monk is down on 
their knees, and often on their elbows also, with the palms of 
the hands joined together, and raised as if in supplication, and 
the title " Paya " is used — the very name which has to do duty 
for the deity. 

An instance is on record of a venerable monk being called 
from Mandalay to settle a dispute between two parties concerning 
some religious point, in a town on the banks of the Irrawaddy. 
On his arrival the whole population lined both sides of the path 
up to the monastery, and kneeling, they loosed down their long 
black hair, for the men as well as the women wear it long, 
and spread it across the path, so that he walked all the distance 
from the river bank to the monastery on human tresses. 

The pagodas are the ordinary resorts of the people as places 
of worship ; not all of them, however, for the great majority are 
merely erected as works of merit, and never attain any celebrity as 
places of worship ; only the chief and most notable shrines. There 
the people assemble of an evening, and are to be seen in the 
flagged open space around the pagoda, on their knees in the open 
air, repeating their devotions in Pali. Though many of them 
come together, it is not of the nature of congregational worship, 
nor is any one appointed to lead their devotions. It is each one 



for himself. There is no prayer in our sense of that term, that is, 
petition. With no God to address, what place is there for prayer ? 
Buddhism knows no higher being than the Buddha, and he is 
gone, twenty-four centuries ago, into Nirvana. The sentences 
they utter in Pali consist of expressions in praise of Buddha, the 
Law, and the Monastic Order. Images of Buddha are extensively 
used, but for all that, the people can hardly be called idolaters. 
The burning of candles and of incense at worship time is 

The Burmese " duty days," of which there are four in the 
month, are observed on the eighth of the crescent, the full, the 
eighth of the waning, and the change of the moon. These are 
kept more strictly as worship days during what is called the Wah 
than at any other time. That is the period from July to October, 
which is observed as a time of special fasting and solemnity, ever 
since the days of their founder, who used to spend this, the rainy 
season, when travelling about in India is scarcely practicable, in 
retii'ement and meditation. During the Wah there is a cessation 
of all festivities, and of the theatrical performances of which the 
Burmans are so fond. 

At the end of the Wah there is a time of general rejoicing. 
For some days before amusements are observed to be in progress 
in the streets. Effigies of animals, very well executed, are carried 
about. Here a butfalo of gigantic size, made of some light 
material, cunningly finished and coloured to the life, with horns 
and hide and all complete, is seen walking about on two pairs 
of liuman legs, the said legs being clad in the very baggy dark 
trousers worn by the Shans ; its head balanced so as to swing 
with the walk in a most realistic and natural manner. 

Yonder, in the Chinese temple, a huge pasteboard demon is seen 
disporting himself, with head of frightful aspect and enormous 
size, and body of cloth. You may freely walk in ; and as you 
look around and admire the excellence of the building and the 
expensive and choice furniture, lamps and decorations, you may 
also see the huge creature writhing about, with all manner of 
contortions, to the deafening din of drums and the clash of 
cymbals. Somehow Orientals seem to be able to combine amuse- 



merit with devotion. My three little children who have walked 
in with me, scared almost out of their wits with the noise, and 
still more with the portentous sight of the demon, promptly take 
to their heels and rush out of the temple, and cannot be induced 
to return, so I go out in search of them. At the coi-ner of the 
next street an enormous representation of a tiger, ten times life 
size, in teeth and claws complete, and with a most ferocious 
aspect, has been glaring at the passers-by for some days. And, 
as you look, here comes a rude likeness of a gigantic lady ten 
feet high, who, however, seems to move along very ungracefully, 
and bows very stiffly in acknowledgment of the cheers of the 
crowd. The Chinese are particularly fond of getting up a very 
brilliantly executed figure of a serpent, in great splendour 
and in very bright colours, many yards long, which is borne 
high overhead through the streets on these occasions, with quite 
a procession. This particular show seems to afford scope for 
high art in representing the wrigglings of the monster as it is 
carried along. 

But this is all only preparatory to the festival called Wah-gyoot 
(literally " the release from the Wah It is a festival of 
lights. For three nights the whole city of Mandalay is one 
blaze of illumination. Every house has its complement of 
candles or oil lamps ; the rich in keeping with their means, and 
the poor according to their poverty. At that season the air is 
still, there is little or no wind, all the lights are out of doors and 
burn brightly. The streets are lit up with candles at every ten 
paces ; the pagodas are effectively illuminated with hundreds of 
lights far up into their spires. Little children are trundling 
extemporised caits with bamboo wheels, each carrying a tiny 
illumination, covered with a lamp of thin, coloured paper. In 
addition to the house illuminations, paper lanterns are quite the 
fashion in China Street, where the well-known ingenuity of John 
Chinaman produces fantastic shapes in vaiious colours, representing 
sundry animals, fishes, ships and what not. On the great river, 
as soon as it grows dark, the villagers row out into the middle of 
the stream and set adrift multitudes of oil lamps, each fastened 
to a little float of bamboo or plantain stem. Thousands of them 




are sent out by each village, so that the whole Irrawaddy is one 
blaze of twinkling lights. 

Another very prominent and popular festival of the Burmans 
is the Water Feast, which occurs at their New Year in April. 
For two or three days at that time " the compliments of the 
season" consist in walking up to you in the street, or even in 
your own house, and discharging a jar of clean water over you, 
with the expression, " I will do homage to you with water " ; and 
it would be considered very bad form to show any resentment for 
this kind and polite attention. It is obvious that such a custom 
as this must afford great scope to the rollicking Burmans of both 
sexes. It leads to abundance of larking and merriment in the 
streets. Everybody who ventures forth stands a great chance of 
a thorough drenching. Fortunately it occurs in April, the time 
of the sun's greatest power, and the sweltering heat renders it 
less of an inconvenience than it would be in a colder climate. 

Thei-e is nothing the Burmans are more scrupulous about than 
the taking of life. A mother has been seen to pick up the 
scorpion that stung her child, between two pieces of bamboo, and 
merely drop it gently outside the door. Twice when I have 
found a deadly cobi-a lurking about the house where the children 
were playing — the most venomous of snakes, whose bite is death — 
and have asked a Burmese servant to help me to kill it, he has 
declined, and I have had to kill it myself. But though the 
Burman will not kill a snake, he will not scruple to take it home 
to cook and eat it after some other person has killed it. Animal 
food seldom comes amiss to them, whether it has been killed by 
another or has died of itself. They are not very choice in their 

Mandalay swarms with thousands of half -starved, imangy, 
miserable animals — nobody's dogs. No matter how they increase 
and multiply, no Burman is willing to " put them out of their 
misery " ; the firm belief in transmigration prevents this. I have 
known half a dozen such dreadful creatures quarter themselves 
uninvited on the Mission premises. One of the half-dozen, a 
savage brute, living under the school on the Mission premises, 
one day bit a little Burman boy, and tore his bare arm very 


badly. This was too much for me. Fearing it might do further 
mischief, and might even be mad, I waylaid and shot it. The 
Burmans thought I had done very wrong. Their tender care for 
animals often appears in touching forms. I have noticed a 
Burman coolie engaged in mixing mortar, on finding he had 
brought a number of tadpoles from the neighbouring pond in his 
bucket of water, take them all out with great care, and carry 
them back to the pond, though it was 150 yards away and he had 
to go on purpose. And yet, so sti-angely inconsistent is human 
nature, there are perhaps few countries in t^e world, with any 
pretensions to civilisation, where human life is held so cheap as in 
Burma, and where the people have commonly such a propensity 
to the crime of dacoity or robbery with violence, and often with 
murder. And yet, again, with strange inconsistency, the coarse 
and hardened criminal, the Burman dacoit, who has imbrued his 
hands in his neighbour's blood more than once, will scruple to 
harm the vermin that infests his couch. 

Some of the great Buddhist shrines in Burma are buildings of 
wonderful magnificence. The Shwe Dagohn Pagoda at Rangoon 
is one of the most important and sacred. It is considered to be 
over two thousand years old. Originally it was very small, but 
now it rises to a height of 370 feet, or a little higher than St. Paul's 
Cathedral, and is a quarter of a mile in circumference at the base. 
It is situated on the top of a very high hill, of which the summit 
has been, at vast labour and expense, made into a level platform, 
and carefully paved. This immense platform is partly occupied 
by many smaller pagodas, resting places for worshippers, and 
chapels containing colossal images of Buddha; and considerable 
open space is left for the immense crowds of worshippers that 
assemble there. In the centre rises the great pagoda in the usual 
bell shape, one vast, solid mass of masonry terminating in a 
spii-e. Four flights of stone steps lead up from the plain beneath, 
one on each side of the hill. On the summit of the pagoda is the 
htee, or gilt iron framework in the form of an umbrella, with 
multitudes of gold and silver bells, richly bejewelled, which tinkle 
with every passing breeze. The htee was presented by King Min- 
dohn, the father of King Theebaw^, and cost <=£ 50,000. The pagoda 



itself with the adjacent buildings must have cost, from first to 
last, a fabulous sum. This pagoda, like many others of the 
principal ones, is covered with pure gold leaf. Every few years 
it has to be regilt. Sometimes this has been done by some 
particular king, as a great work of merit. One king is said to 
have spent his own weight of gold upon it. In 1887 there was 
a regilding by public subscription. The accounts when published 
showed an expenditure of some 9,000 ; and this money, be it 
known to all Christians, was raised at once, without leaving any 
debt for the next generation to defray. And not only so, but it 
was raised in money actually contributed directly for this purpose. 
There was no need to resort to any of the well-known, artful, 
coaxing methods of raising funds, which have to be adopted in 
more civilised countries. There was not even a bazaar, not even 
a raffle ! I have no hesitation in stating that it is my belief that 
Buddhists spend on their religion, in edifices, on the support of 
the monks, and on other works of charity, much more per head 
in proportion to their means than the average of Christians spend 
on theirs. 

Another remarkable thing about the Shwe Dagohn Pagoda 
is its bell, 14 feet high, 7| feet across, and weighing 42 tons, the 
third lai-gest bell in the world. This bell has a history. After 
the second Burmese war in 1853, the English made an attempt 
to carry it off as a trophy to Calcutta, but ere they shipped 
it the monster toppled over into the E-angoon river, and sank to 
the bottom. With the appliances then at hand they were unable 
to get it up again. After a time the Burmans made request that 
they might have it. 

Yes, they might have the bell if they could get it. 

They succeeded in raising it out of the river, and hauled it back 
in triumph to the position it occupies to-day. 

When great shrines like this exist in Burma, on such a vast 
scale and with such splendour, it is not much to wonder at if 
there should be some specimens of unfinished and abortive under- 
takings, by which the kings of Burma, in their ambition to obtain 
great merit and a name, sought to equal or excel the great shrines 
of antiquity, but which had to be relinquished because the 


resources, even of despotic kings, are not unlimited. Such a one 
is the great unfinished Mengohn Pagoda, which is built in a 
pleasant spot on the light bank of the Irrawaddy, about nine 
miles above Mandalay. It is supposed that this must be the 
largest mass of solid brickwork in the world, and it is now nearly 
a century old. It covers a square of 450 feet, and has there- 
fore an area of 4| acres. Its height is 155 feet, which is much 


less than it would have been had it gone on to completion. An 
Englisliman, Captain Cox, was there, and saw the beginning of 
this huge structure. He says in his book that there was a great 
square chamber built in the basement of the pagoda as usual, to 
receive the offerings of the king and the people, and amongst many 
peculiarly Burmese and Buddhist articles, such as models of pre- 
cious relics in gold caskets, and gold and silver miniature pagodas 
and images, the miscellaneous collection included an article of 



Western manufacture — a soda-water machine, at that time almost 
as great a novelty in England as it was in Burma. Close by this 
large unfinished pagoda is the second largest bell in the world ; 
the largest is at Moscow. An earthquake, which occurred in 
1839, cracked this enormous mass of brickwork, and dislodged a 
portion of it ; but so solid is it that it would take many earth- 
quakes utterly to destroy it. 

Notwithstanding the failure to complete this gigantic enter- 
prise, it did not deter a later king, the father of King Theebaw, 
from attempting a still larger and more ambitious effort. Four 
miles to the east of Mandalay there was to have been erected the 
Yankeen-toung Pagoda, built of stone quarried from the adjoining 
hill ; and it was to have been larger considerably than the 
unfinished Mengohn. The whole kingdom was laid under contri- 
bution to furnish men to labour by turns, a few months at a 
time, on this pious work. 

After four years' labour, so vast was the extent that the base- 
ment had only reached a height of four feet. At this stage 
a French engineer was called in to make an estimate and report 
upon it. His calculation was that if 5,000 men worked every day 
on the building, it might at tliat rate be finished in eighty-four 
years. It never went beyond the basement. 

Since the annexation of Upper Burma, the practical British 
mind, finding the Yankeen-toung stone eminently suitable for 
road-making, and seeing that the roads in Mandalay, with its 
188,000 people, were not, up to that time, made of anything 
better than black clay, has devoted this stone, intended for the 
pagoda, with which King Mindohn had purposed, so to speak, 
paving his own way to Nirvana, to the humbler, but more gene- 
rally useful enterprise of mending the people's ways about the 



F the forty or more different races and tribes dwelling in 

yj Burma and on its frontiers, the Burmans are the leading 
race : first, in point of numbers, for they far exceed any of the 
others ; also as regards position and advantages, for they natumlly, 
as the leading race, have come to occupy all the best and most 
fertile soil, all the tracts of country lying between the great 
mountain ranges, the valleys of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin 
rivers ; and still more in respect of their prestige, for they have 
long been the ruling race of this region, and their language is 
far more widely diffused than any other. Most of the other in- 
digenous races of Burma, as we have seen, are demon worshippers, 
uncivilised, without a written language, and with many and wide 
diversities from the Burmans. The Burmans, however, have 
an ancient civilisation, an elaborate religious system, a philosophy 
and a literature, and with regard to the arts, handicrafts and 
conveniences of ordinary life, are quite on a par with the Hindus. 
The present chapter applies to the Burman race. 

The Burmans are of Mongolian origin, in common with the 
Chinese, Siamese and other inhabitants of the Indo-Chinese 
peninsula. Their features plainly show this, especially the 
almond-shaped eye, the slightly flattened nose and the almost 
entire absence of hair on the faces of the men. They are lighter 
in complexion than the majority of the natives of India, and 
slightly browner than the Chinese. 

They show a marked contrast in many respects to the races of 




India, especially in the entire absence of caste. The king was 
the fountain of all position in the country. He made and 
unmade nobles at his sole will and pleasure, so that there is 
no hereditary rank or nobility. There is also no priestly caste 
like the Brahmins of India ; the Buddhist monks are recruited 
from all classes, from the royal family downwards. Except the 
pagoda slaves, a class doomed to hereditary servitude in connec- 
tion with the more important sacred shrines, and with a few 
other trifling exceptions, the Burmans as a people have all the 
avenues of native life and privilege open to them. This renders 
them less fastidious and more approachable than the people of 
India, and does away with the withering, blighting effects of 
caste. It renders them less conservative also, and makes them 
more i-eady to take up new ideas. 

Tlie Burmese language, in common witli the Mongolian lan- 
guages generally, is monosyllabic, each word consisting of one 
syllable. Of course the progress of all languages tends to unite 
words, and in the majority of languages this tendency has resulted 
in the original monosyllables becoming so united and changed as 
to be not easily capable of separation. But in Burmese and other 
monosyllabic languages very many names and words are still of 
one syllable, and even where they are of two or three, each 
syllable seems to show a sturdy vigour of its own, and a deter- 
mination to preserve its individuality complete, and not sink into 
the position of a mere servant of its neighbours. In pronuncia- 
tion or reading of Burmese this appears in a marked degree ; and 
in writing Burmese names one always feels inclined to follow the 
pronunciation, and insert the hyphen between the syllables. 
Even where there is any disposition of the syllables to cleave 
together in the formation of words, in anything like a permanent 
form, they readily fall asunder the moment they are touched for 
the purpose of critical examination. 

To compensate for the convenience of expression afforded in 
most languages by inflections, much is made in the Burmese of 
particles. Indeed, the grammar of the language, which is very 
simple, consists largely of the classification of the monosyllables 
that serve as particles, and a gi-eat deal of variety of meaning 



is expressed by tones. The alphabet is derived from the ancient 
iSTagari, the common source of the alphabets of many of the Indian 
languages, but the characters themselves belong exclusively to 





00 6*^ sl^C|^ H — O 5 8 (?g D oS I O <S8G§ oSi 

oSg 005 § o5|o cS8G§D oS Q C CO II 

oS G 00 5 § o5 1 8 G § D oS Q G CO U 




^o6 noooSc 00 5 § o5 9^)0 § g £ cxDo I 


^ Gp O 6 cf^ o5 G 00 ^1 1 

o^oSg ooS o6 (i o 8 ^c6 o1 c^os I 


the Burmese tongue, except that they have been adopted for the 
Shan and Karen languages. The alphabet is called the them- 
hon-gyee or great basket of learning, and it well deserves the 



name; for what with the 10 vowels, the 32 consonants, the 
vowel-consonants to the number of 10 x 32, and a very numerous 
series of characters to express many combinations of letters, it 
really is a very great basketful indeed, and occupies 28 pages of 
a closely printed pamphlet with the charactei's alone. 

One of the difficulties to a foreigner in picking up the spoken 
language is the Burmese custom of dropping the sound of the 
final consonants of syllables. This is not, as it is with some 
English people, a bad habit, but is sanctioned by the usage of 
the language. In the grammar of the language some interesting 
features appear. Thus in many verbs the intransitive is changed 
into the transitive by the mere aspiration of an initial consonant : 
as hya-thee, to fall ; kliya-thee, to throw down, or cause to fall ; 
loht-thee, to be free ; hloht-thee, to set free. The adjective does 
not precede but follows the noun it qualifies. The accusative is 
followed by the verb that governs it. 

Burmese abounds with honorific expressions. First of all is 
the ever-recurring ordinary honorific form daw, placed after 
nouns and verbs, to indicate that the thing or action named 
has to do with some person out of the common order. The first 
personal pronoun lias three distinct forms, so that a speaker is 
able, by choosing one or other of these three, in a word, as it were, 
to place himself on an eminence above, on an equality with, or 
in a position beneath the person he is addressing ; a great con- 
venience, surely. What could the framers of our own poor 
language have been thinking about, to neglect to secure for us 
such an obvious advantage as that ? 

The second personal pronoun is even richer, for it counts no 
less than six well-defined gradations of expression, not to mention 
several more supernumerary forms, that may be employed if the 
regular forms of the pronoun are not enough. By means of 
these the person addressed may be treated with veneration, gently 
flattered, addressed with easy familiarity, made to feel his relative 
littleness, scolded, or abused, as occasion may require. And all 
this variety of expression in the mere choice of the pronoun in 
the second person ! What a language it must be in the mouth 
of a competent person ! 



Again, with regard to "Yes," our affirmative of assent, the 
Burmese can vary its form, by means of well-sanctioned idioms 
in constant use, from something equivalent to the American 
" That's so," through several more and more polite affirmatives, 
up to " What you say is appropriate, my Lord," an expression 
reserved of course for the king, the monks, some respectable 
European, or Burman of distinction. Where such various expres- 
sions would sound very stilted in English, the Burmese idiom can 
give them as ordinary forms of politeness. Thus again, the ordi- 
nary man is said to " eat ",; the monk " nourishes his body with 
the alms of the pious " ; but the king tops them all, for he 
"ascends to the lordly board." It is asserted of a man when 
he dies merely that he has " changed the bawa," i.e., left one state 
of existence and gone into another ; but in the case of a monk we 
may safely go further and say, as the idiom does, that he has 
" returned to the blissful seats " ; the king, when he dies, is 
politely said to have " ascended to the village of the nats'' (beings 
superior to men). These Oriental peculiarities of language and 
idiom are interesting and amusing, and the frequent discovery of 
them, in the course of his studies, does much to compensate the 
foreigner for the drudgery involved in learning the language 
thoroughly, provided he is not devoid of the sense of humour, 
and can appreciate them when he finds them. 

But perhaps the chief oddity of the Burmese language to the 
foreigner is the use of numeral auxiliaries. In using numbers you 
make quite a business of it, by adding in the case of each of the 
things mentioned, a special term descriptive of the class of things 
to which they belong. It is on this wise : first, you name the 
things spoken of, then the number, and finally the appropriate 
numeral avixiliary. Thus if you wish to say " six dogs " you must 
put it in this form to be idiomatic, " dogs six living creatures'' 

Five horses = " horses five beasts of burden." 

Four men = " men four rational beings." 

Three monks = " monks three highly respectable characters.''^ 

Two rupees = " rupees two flat thing s.'' 

Always to have to supply, on the spur of the moment, whilst 
speaking, the correct classification of the objects named in making 



use of numbers, seems to the foreigner a very needless and arbi- 
trary demand, and so new to him that, until he gets accustomed 
to it, he is constantly liable to overlook it. The classification of 
things made in this way does not extend, however, beyond some 
twenty-one categories. In addition to those named there are 
things in a line, things in a circle, things long and straight, things 
nearly round or cubical, things which are used as tools, trees and 
plants (which class includes hair !), and some others. But the 
classification of things provided for by the use of these numeral 
auxiliaries is neither very scientific nor very complete, for the list 
is soon exhausted ; and when you come to such things as chairs, 
bedsteads and a multitude of other things which come under 
none of the recognised classes of things, they are all slumped 
under the head of "individual things," which is disappointing 
after the hopes raised of a complete classification of all things. 

Burmese literature is largely devoted to Buddhism. Of popular 
works the most common are the Zats, stories of embryo Buddhas, 
and what they did in their different births, before they arrived at 
that state. Here is obviously much scope for fancy in tracing the 
buddings of their wisdom and glory, and all their miraculous 
adventures and deliverances, together with much about the nats 
or spirits supposed to haunt the universe. Christian literature is 
miserably meagre as yet, and there is much scope and need for 
more. All Christian workers, and indeed all foreigners who aim 
at learning Burmese, are deeply indebted to Dr. Judson, the first 
missionary of the American Baptist Mission, for his excellent 
translation of the whole Bible, and for his English-Burmese and 
Burmese-English dictionaries, his Burmese grammar, and other 
minor works. To multitudes in England and America Dr. Judson 
is famous for what he suffered ; but amongst those who know and 
can appreciate his literary work, that alone is sufficient to entitle 
him to an imperishable fame. 

Although there are in Burma so many pagodas, monasteries 
and other religious buildings, which are tine, substantial erections, 
massive, spacious and very rich in decoration, the dwellings of 
the people are, as a rule, very poor in accommodation, and are of 
bamboo, the flimsiest of material, and specially liable to destruc- 




tion by fire. The posts of the house are of teak, the Hoor is of 
bamboos, and raised from two to six feet from the ground, the 
walls are of bamboo matting not much thicker than stout brown 
paper, and the roof is of bamboo thatch. These houses, though 
so slightly made, are warm enough for the climate. The floor 
especially seems very frail to a stranger, made of half bamboos, 
round side upwards, and lashed together with strips of cane. It 
gives and sways under your feet as you walk over it in an alarm- 
ing manner, but the bamboos, though they bend, do not easily 
break. The Burmans like that kind of a house. It is cool and 
airy. The floor shows a space between each bamboo, and those 
spaces are particularly convenient for an easy-going people. All 
kinds of miscellaneous things not required, including scraps and 
remnants of food, can be dropped through the floor, so that it 
requires no sweeping. The mighty host of ownerless, homeless, 
starving dogs that roam over the town can be safely trusted to 
find anything there is to eat, and they are not of dainty appetite. 
All cooking has to be done outside the house, either in a separate 
building, or more commonly in a little sqviare hole dug in the 
ground for the purpose, to prevent, if possible, sparks being blown 
about by the high winds that prevail at certain seasons of the 

Owing to the extremely inflammable nature of the buildings in 
Burma, fires are of frequent occurrence, and are exceedingly de- 
structive. In addition to the ordinary risk from cooking fires and 
paraflin oil lamps, the people are exceedingly careless in handling 
fire, and they are all smokers. They smoke a kind of cigar made 
of chopped tobacco mixed with some light woody substance, and 
enclosed in the outer leaf of the maize cob, or some other leaf used 
for the same purpose, and these cigars drop sparks in all direc- 
tions. The end of the hot, dry season, in April and May, when 
everything is like tinder, and when the high winds prevail, is the 
most destructive time for fires, and every year at that time they 
are of daily occurrence in Mandalay, and sometimes scores and 
sometimes hundreds of bamboo houses are swept away. During 
the four years I have lived in Mandalay I have known many 
large portions of the town destroyed time after time. 



The most destructive fires that have occurred since the 
annexation took place on March 31st, 1892, and the following 
day. The first of these fires originated in 27th Street, near the 
centre of the town. Exceptionally high winds from the south 
carried the fiames in a northerly direction. All the wooden 
and bamboo buildings in front of the fire were consumed in an 
incredibly short space of time. Very soon the flames reached 
the central telegraph ofiice, a new Government building that cost 
about .£2,000. The flames leaped across a very wide street, and 
destroyed the oflice. The fire burnt its way through the town 
due north for two miles, and ceased only when it had burnt itself 
out. There is a good fire-engine establishment since the British 
rale, but fire-engines are of no avail in a case like that. 

The first great fire was still smouldering when, on the following 
day, another broke out in the eastern town. It spread in the 
same way from south to north about two miles. In the line of 
this fire, and extending the whole way, w^ere a series of remarkably 
fine monastery buildings, including some of the finest in Burma, 
all built of teak, and covered with decorative carving, and two of 
them covered with gold leaf within and without. One of these 
monasteries was built by King Mindohn at a cost of 16 lakhs of 
rupees ; the entire loss caused by this one fire alone is roughly 
estimated at 100 lakhs (say £600,000). The same day a third 
fire broke out in the north end of the town, and destroyed several 
hundreds of Burmese houses. Tliis firo was caused by gross 
negligence, the sparks from a Burmese cigar igniting some Indian 
corn. When these fires occur the Burmans do not seem to 
concern themselves. They remove their household goods if they 
have time, but make no real efforts to stem the progress of the 
flames. Much valuable property is destroyed, but it is seldom 
any lives are lost. 

All Eastern nations pay great attention to the rules relating 
to the degree of state and dignity such and such classes of the 
people may assume. Amongst the Hindus the pariahs and other 
low castes are most rigidly kept down, and the least sign of 
alteration foi' the better in their dress, houses, or circumstances 
renders them liable to the peisecution of the higher castes. I 



have known in Ceylon amongst the Hindus prolonged struggles 
between certain castes, involving serious breaches of the peace, 
the point at issue being only this — whether a certain caste of 
people ought or ought not to be allowed to carry umbrellas at 
their weddings and on other special occasions. In the native 
kingdom of Travancore, a few years ago, serious riots took place 
because the women of a certain class of people known as the 
''slave caste," having come under the influence of the Gospel, 
desired to dress themselves with something like decency, whereas 
the inexorable rule was that neither man nor woman of that 
caste was to clothe the body above the waist or below the knee. 

In Burma, though there is no caste, the sumptuary laws were 
stringently carried out. The title "Thootay" (rich man) was 
enjoyed only under royal edict. For funerals five different 
degrees of rank were all minutely laid down, and the state and 
show must be accordingly. The umbrella question was regarded 
as a most vital and important one. In the matter of the use 
of that great emblem of dignity minute directions were issued 
and observed. Gilt umbrellas especially were only for the chosen 
few. The white umbrella no one must assume but the king and 
the Lord White Elephant. Under Burmese rule any one 
appearing in public under a white umbrella would have had to 
answer for it. Where in English we should say " the throne," 
or " the crown," as the emblem of royalty, in Burmese literature 
it would be " the white umbrella and the palace." 

I remember on one occasion unwittingly making what, in 
Burmese times, would have been a serious breach in my manners, 
and it shows how easy it is to do that in an Eastern country. It 
was at Pagan, a town on the Irrawaddy. Happening to be there 
one day when the Chief Commissioner of Burma, the representative 
of our Queen-Empress, was expected, I went down to the river 
bank, where many Burmans were assembled to see him, and do 
him honour as he landed from the steamer. The day was bright 
and the sun very hot, and as usual I put up an umbrella I 
always carried with me, of the ordinary English alpaca, but 
with a white covei^, for additional protection from the sun's rays. 
I saw the Burmans looking and making remarks, but being in 




blissful forgetfulness that I was holding an umbrella at the 
time, I never thought it refei-red to me, until suddenly I re- 
membered that there was I, in the presence of the representative 
of royalty, assuming the white umbrella, and, according to Burmese 
etiquette, guilty of something approaching to high ti-eason ! I 
hauled down my flag at once. 

The royal titles of the King of Burma were perhaps the most 
pompous and pretentious of any monarch — His most glorious 
and excellent Majesty, Lord of the Tshaddau, King of Elephants, 
Master of many White Elephants, Lord of the Mines of gold, 
silver, I'ubies, amber, and the noble serpentine, Sovereign of the 
empires of Thuna-paranta and Tampadipa, and other great 
empires and countries, and of all the Umbrella-w^earing Chiefs, 
the Supporter of Religion, the Sun-descended Monarch, Arbiter 
of Life, and great King of Righteousness, King of Kings, and 
Possessor of Boundless Dominion and Supreme Wisdom." 

As may be surmised from this lengthy and extravagant title 
that ancient doctrine known as the divine right of kings was held 
in Burma out and out, without the slightest qualification or limit. 
Every subject was the king's born slave, with no legal right to 
any property. The king was the absolute master of the lives, the 
liberties, the propei'ty, and the very labour of his subjects. There 
was little or no private ownership of land ; the land belonged to 
the king. The cultivators were merely the king's tenants, 
raising produce for his benefit, he graciously allowing them to 
have some of the produce for their own support. 

But there is a principle of compensation running through all 
human affairs, and even absolute monarchs cannot have things 
all their own way ; and a throne is not always a bed of roses. 
The more grinding the despotism the greater the danger of 
revolution. Hence the only real limit to the power of the king 
was his dread of assassination, and this was a very real and well- 
grounded fear, especially in the case of a ruler like King Theebaw, 
with a faulty title and with no natural ability for wielding power. 
The King of Burma was little better than a prisoner in his own 
spacious palace and grounds, for he could scarcely ever leave 
them, for fear of the palace, and the arseral close by, being seized 



in his absence by some pretender to the throne. If that should 
happen there was small chance of his recovering them. The 
chief cause of the king's insecurity was the unbridled polygamy 
of the Burmese court. This resulted in crowds of queens, princes 
and princesses, all possible claimants to the throne, and it some- 
times happened, as in the case of King Theebaw, that there was 
no rest for him till most of them were put to death. 

The Burmese Government was throughout characterised by 
oppression and misrule. No fixed salaries were paid to ofiicials, 
but princes, ministers, queens, concubines and favourites were 
supported by the grant of a province, and known by the title of 
" Myo-tsa " (province-eater), a title which only too aptly indicated 
its own meaning. It was the policy of the Myo-tsa to squeeze as 
much revenue as he could out of the people, in order to pay the 
required amount at Mandalay and to pay himself. Subordinate 
to the province-eater came the functionaries in charge of circles 
of villages, and then of the individual villages ; and in each case 
it was the same thing, all intent on making as much as they 
could out of it. This was with regard to the tax levied on each 
family or house. The same primitive and essentially vicious 
methods applied to the other items of taxation — viz., that on 
produce, fees on law cases, and occasionally, extraordinary con- 
tributions to Government for special needs — gave rise to the same 
kind of fleecing of the people. Towards the end of King Theebaw's 
reign things grew worse and worse. The sale of monopolies 
became very common, and state lotteries for the benefit of the 
revenue did great harm amongst a people naturally fond of 
gambling. When at last Burmese rule came to an end it was a 
clearing away of much that was rotten and hopelessly out of 
date, and on the whole it was a great blessing to the people to 
substitute for it British rule. 


THE Countess of Diifferin's fund for the training of female 
nurses in midwifery, for the benefit of women in the East, is 
nowhere more sorely needed than it is in Burma, for there are 
among tlie Burmans, in connection with that critical period, 
usages that render some more enliglitened metliod of treatment 
urgently to be desired. Immediately on the birth of the child, 
it is the earnest endeavour of those in charge to place the mother 
as near as possible to a very large fire. Hot bricks are applied, 
rugs and blankets are piled upon lier, irrespective of the state of 
the weather, in a country where for two months of the year the 
thermometer stands at 110° in the shade of the verandah. This 
continues for seven days, and is with a view to dispel the noxious 
humours supposed to be generated. This treatment, in addition 
to the drinking of much medicine at the same time, renders that 
crisis of life more than usually hazardous to the mother. 

The boy goes to the monastery school as soon as he is able to 
learn, and is there taught to read and write, and is initiated into 
the teachings of Buddhism. He learns the five universal command- 
ments, the five subsidiary rules, and the Pali formulae used at the 
pagoda worship. At the monastery he is made familiar, at the most 
susceptible period of his life, with tlie routine of the life of the 
monks, learning, amongst other things, idleness as a fine art, and 
he is taught to look upon the condition of the monk as the holiest 
man can attain in this life. If I were asked which I considered 
the stron"-est point Buddhism holds in the midst of the Burmese 





people, I should at once lay my finger on this — the influence of the 
monastery school on the hoys. There can be no doubt that before 
any great inroads can be made upon Buddhism — before Christianity 
can have a fair chance of success — the missionary will have to 
enter into an honourable competition with the monastery schools. 
These are days of competition. He will have to provide a better 
and a wider system of vernacular elementary education than the 
people can get at present, and by providing a better article, he 
can attract the people to him. Let him fearlessly permeate the 
teaching through and through with Christian truth (not anti- 
Buddhism), and he will find that will not lessen, but increase, his 
popularity. In all Oriental lands the heathen instruction of the 
indigenous schools is a hindrance to Christianity, but I know of 
no country where it is more so than in Burma. 

Every Burman youth, as he grows up, is tattooed from the waist 
to the knees.* It is considered an indispensable token of manliness 
for the thighs to be completely covered with various figures of 
birds, animals, scrolls and letters. This tattooing would be too 
painful if done all at once. It is done little by little. Besides 
this universal method of tattooing, other styles are followed. 
Sometimes the chest is covered with cabalistic squares and 
symbols in vermilion, in connection with which many foolish 
superstitions are entertained. The Burmans have a great notion 
of some kinds of tattooing as special preservatives against wounds 
from bullets and sword cuts, and as a means of warding off the 
evils, and securing the advantages, of life. There was a great 
deal of this in the troublous times through which we passed after 
the annexation, and until the country settled down. Many of 
the dacoit leaders made use of this method to increase the con- 
fidence of their followers, by making them invulnerable ; but not 

* Lest the reader should get the impression, from the accompanying 
illustration, that the tattooing appears white on the person, it may be well 
to explain that the real colour is a very dark blue. The photographer, 
fully alive to the resources of science, in order to oblige us with a better 
view of the subject, induced the youth to smear the tattooing plentifully 
with oil, with the result that the bright shining of the sun on the glistening, 
dark-blue pattern brought it out white ! 



a few who put their trust in this defence found themselves 

Then there are talismans specially used by Burman dacoits, 
consisting of charmed or consecrated objects, inserted under 
their skin, and embedded permanently between the skin and the 
flesh. Many famed dacoits have long rows of them on their 

It is a sign of the ability of this people to take up new ideas, 
that the Burman tattooers have lately taken to pushing business 
amongst the English soldiers, who, as a class, are very fond of 
being decorated in this way. For this purpose these artists have 
had the tact to leave the patterns fashionable amongst their own 
countrymen, and have taken to imitating English pictures, devices 
and emblems. Many a time-expired " soldier who has served 
in Burma, now in England, is able to show these decorations (?) 
on his arms and chest in more than one colour. 

The Burmans are a nation of smokers. Tlie children begin at 
a very tender age, and are not checked. Men, women and children 
smoke ; the most dignified of matrons and the smartest of young 
damsels not only smoke, but prefer to have their portraits taken 
cheroot in hand. The Burman can never bring himself to look 
upon his cigar as out of place, even in the most august presence ; 
it seems a part of himself. If he should drop in to a Christian 
service he will light up, if you will allow him, as he sits to hear 
the address. 

The staple food of the Burmans is boiled rice, and curry made 
of vegetables stewed, with the addition of condiments, and meat 
or fish, if they can get it. Though they are very scrupulous 
themselves about taking any animal life, they are not at all 
averse to animal food. Did not the Buddha eat flesh? His 
last illness is said to have been caused, in extreme age, by a meal 
of pork, which disagreed with him. The Buimans are coarse 
feeders. They will readily eat that which has died of itself. We 
had direct evidence of that one day, when two of us wer-e travel- 
ling, and arrived in the evening at a village. A military convoy 
of elephants, mules and ponies carrying stores, had that day 
passed through the village, and one of the ponies had died there, 



and was lying by the roadside. Next day we met the people 
carr}dng portions of the flesh, and on inquiry, they told us it was 
that same pony, and that they were going to eat it. On our 
return the whole of it was cleared away. Even snakes and lizards 
do not come amiss to them. 

They are exceedingly fond of a condiment of fish paste called 
ngapee. This is fish dried a little in the sun, salted, and then 
mashed to a pulp. As the fish for ngai^e is not properly cured, 
the efiluvium emitted from it is particularly obnoxious, and can 
be detected a very long way off. The smell might be described 
as strong, pungent, high ; but none of these adjectives serves 
properly to characterise it. Having never ventured to eat any 
I cannot describe the taste. Yet this fish paste is so liked by 
the Burmans that a meal is hardly complete without it. It gives 
the food a relish. 

The Burmans clothe themselves kn very bright colours, and in 
good taste as regards the harmony of the coloui-s. A good deal 
of what they wear, both silk and cotton cloth, is locally manu- 
factured. The weavers and dyers have some exquisite shades 
of pink, of red, of primrose, of navy blue, and other colours. 
They spend more on dress than the natives of India, and less on 
jewellery. Many of the people wear silk. The women dress 
their fine, luxuriant jet-black hair very tastefully. It [is combed 
up from all sides very neatly, and made into a coil on the crown 
of the head. They wear no headdress but a bunch or wreath of 
flowers. That the Burmans cannot be considered an uncivilised 
race is clear from the perfect familiarity of their ladies with the 
mystery of the chignon, and with the manufacture and use of 
cosmetics for the improvement of the complexion, to say nothing 
of scents and artificial flowers, also locally made. 

The Burmans have some taste, too, in music. They have a 
fair ear, pick up English tunes without difficulty, and sing them 
sweetly. Their musical instruments are primitive, and not very 
elaborate. They have a kind of pipe or clarionet, also a kind 
of trumpet; but they are greatest in drums. A performer 
on the drums will have around him in a circle something like a 
dozen, of different sizes, and varying in pitch, so that he can 



almost play a tune on them. For private instrumental solos 
they ^ have a kind of dulcimer, made of strips of bamboo, which 
is wonderfully musical and rich in tone, especially considering 
the material it is made from. It seems strange that the Karens 
should so excel their neighbours, the other races of Burma, in the 
capacity for music, especially when we consider that civihsation 
came to the Karens so late. The relative aptitude for music 
amongst the different races of the earth, from all one can learn, 
seems to hinge on something other than the mere extent of the 
civilisation attained. What does it depend upon % 

The Burman artists paint a good many pictures, judging by 
the great numbers offered for sale and hawked round. The 
pictures are mostly palace scenes, with kings and queens seated 
stiffly in state, receiving company, with courtiers standing round, 
and soldiers posted here and there. Latterly, Thomas Atkins, of 
the British Infantry, has been the approved type of the soldiery ; 
perhaps with a view to a better sale for the pictures. The artists 
are adventurous, and willing to attempt anything, and they do 
not spare the coloui-s, but the pictures are very stiff and the 
perspective is bad. 

The frescoes at tlie Arakan pagoda in Mandalay, representing 
the eight hells of Buddhism, are for many reasons a curious study. 
Those pictures are more of a success from the standpoint of dog- 
matic theology than from that of high art. The scenes depicted 
are realistic and definite beyond any manner of doubt. The 
artist, one would think, had made up his mind to be very " faith- 
ful " with us, and to shrink not from depicting what he considered 
the truth on the subject. Human beings are there seen writhing 
in torturing fire, fixed on thorns, torn by dogs, dragged by black 
monsters in human form, thrown by them into torments with 
pitchforks, or starving by inches, with every bone in their bodies 
showing, and with faces of unutterable woe. One wretch is repre- 
sented attempting to climb a tree, his brains being picked out by 
a bird from above, and his feet being torn off by dogs from 
beneath ; another is seated on the ground, while two men are 
sawing him in halves, right through the head downwards, the 
blood all the while flowing in gallons ! In one instance, the head, 



having been entirely severed from the body, is looking on in con- 
sternation at the rest of the body being chopped up. 

In the matter of sculpture, the numerous marble images of 
Gautama (Buddha) show considerable ability in execution, especi- 
ally in the faces, which show regularity of features and true 
likeness to the human face, as well as the correct expression of 
calm meditation appropriate to the Buddha ; but there is much 
room for improvement in the general design, and for accuracy 
and variety in the various details. But we must remember that 
the sculptor of a Gautama is bound down by conventional canons 
of taste as to the postures, and as to the expression of the face, 
which he may not depart from. 

In wood-carving, where there is scope for taste and fancy, we 
get from the Burman really wonderful results. There is nothing 
in which they excel more than in this, whether it be in the way 
of small delicate work in picture frames, brackets, and other 
articles of small and beautiful workmanship, or in the numerous 
elaborate adornments of the monastery buildings. Many of the 
more noted monasteries are quite a study of sumptuous carving 
in teak wood, the whole building in many cases being one mass of 
scrolls and decorations, with many well-executed figures of men, 
cattle, horses and supernatural creatures. In the case of some 
monasteries whole histories are depicted in the carvings. 

Marriage amongst the Barmans is not a very close bond. It is 
a civil institution, and altogether non-religious, and divorce for 
trifling causes is common and easy. I know a well-to-do couple 
who had been married for some years, and lived happily ; but at 
length a difference of opinion unfortunately arose between them, 
and a quarrel ensued about a mere trifle, affecting the expenditure 
of a sum not more than a sliilling, and after the quarrel they 
calmly agreed to separate, on the ground of incompatibility of dis- 
positions. Many a man has had several wives, one after another, 
and parted with them successively. In case of the dissolution of 
a marriage, the woman retains whatever property she possessed 
before marriage, together with what she may have gained by her 
own separate exertions, or inherited. 

Polygamy is sanctioned by usage, but is not very common, as it 



is costly ; concubinage is by no means uncommon. The wealthy, 
such as ministers of state and men in high position, usually kept 
more than one wife. The king was the worst offender in this 
respect, for he set a very bad example. King Mindohn, the last 
king but one, had fifty-three recognised wives, of whom thirty-seven 
survived him, besides numerous concubines ; and he had one 
hundred and ten children, of whom fifty survived him. He him- 
self, however, in conversation with the English envoy, deplored 
this bad custom, as productive of much intrigue, revolution and 
bloodshed in the palace. There was sad confirmation of this after 
his death, in the two fearful massacres during the reign of King 
Theebaw, that cut off nearly ail the surviving members of the 
royal family, besides many other innocent persons. 

One very peculiar and unseemly custom was for the reigning 
monarch to espouse, as his principal queen, one of the royal prin- 
cesses, who was therefore his half-sister. It is undoubtedly a 
blessing for Burma that such a rule, so hopelessly corrupt and 
demoralising to the nation, so incompetent to keep order, and so 
determinedly Oriental, conservative and out of date, has become 
a thing of the past. 

The position of woman in Burma, notwithstanding the blem- 
ishes on their social system, is not nearly so downtrodden and 
degraded as in most Eastern countries. This undoubtedly arises 
from the fact that there are no zenanas among the Burmans, no 
keeping of women shut up. They are as free to come and go, and 
take part in the business of life, as women are in England, and 
they avail themselves of their liberty, and take a very considerable 
share in the business that is done. In money matters in the 
family they have always enjoyed an equality with the other sex, 
which was only of late years accorded to women in England ; that 
is, the power to retain in their own right for themselves and their 
heirs the property they possessed before, or gained after, marriage. 
As the women, as a general rule in Burma, are far more industrious 
than the men, and quite as shrewd and businesslike, this tends 
towards maintaining a healthy sense of equality with the other sex. 
If a man has a managing wife who can run a stall in the market, 
or greatly assist in supporting the family l)y keeping a shop at 



home, as is very often the case, the husband will think twice 
before he leaves her, or provokes her to leave him. The wife and 
mother sits by, and gives her opinion on things in general, in the 
family conclave, and hen-pecked husbands are not unknown in 

The Burmans are very fond of games. They have an excellent 
game of football which they very often play, but it is a very 
different thing from the rough game known in England by that 
name. English football is too violent an exercise for that climate. 
It is more on the principle of shuttlecock. Six or eight young 
men stand around in a circle, with their garments tucked up so 
as not to impede their movements. A light, hollow wicker work 
ball is started by one of them, and the object of the game is to 
keep it going as long as possible. They must not touch the ball 
with the hand, but they show great skill and activity in catching 
it with the foot, either side of the ankle, the heel, the toe, the 
knee, the shoulder. It is a clever stroke to leap up two or three 
feet into the air, and meet and kick the ball with the heel, as it 
is descending ; one still more difficult is to leap up, catch the ball 
between the feet, and jerk it up again into the air before reach- 
ing the ground. Each player takes the ball when it is tossed 
over into his vicinity, and he may keep it going any number of 
times, before kicking it off across to the other side of the circle. 
Few games are better calculated to exercise the limbs and render 
the young men strong on their feet than this. 

Boat-racing is another very favourite national amusement. In 
the racing boats are many rowers, with short paddles, and the 
races are scenes of wild excitement, both on the part of the com- 
petitors and spectators. There is a good deal of betting in 
connection with these races. The gambling spirit easily takes 
hold of the Burmans. All games of chance have a gieat fascina- 
tion with this excitable, volatile people, and they fall an easy 
prey to the low, cunning Chinaman, who makes it his business to 
introduce gambling into the village, and to profit by it. 

The Burmans are also exceedingly fond of the drama. For 
every conceivable event that can by any ingenuity be made a 
special occasion, there must be what is called a jyit;^. I have 




known a 2^106 in honour of a birth, and I have known one given 
to celebrate a death — the execution of a noted dacoit leader, who 
had been a great curse to the neighbourhood, and had long defied 
justice — and for almost any occasion occupying an intermediate 
position between the two, oiie of these dramatic performances 
would not be out of place. There are no permanent buildings 
used as theatres. The performance takes place in the open street. 
The tempoi-ary erection used as the stage is constructed of the 
useful and indispensable bamboo. It is set up in the street, 
and extends frequently halfway across it. The rest of the 
thoroughfare is blocked up with the couches the spectators bring 
from their homes to sit upon ; and traffic is almost suspended in 
that direction for the time being. All this preparation takes place 
during the day. The play begins after dark, and goes on until 
towards sunrise. Temporary stalls for the sale of food are set up 
at the edge of the crowd, and the people by hundreds make a 
night of it. The dramas are founded on tales which Gautama 
(Buddha) told of his five hundred and ten previous existences, 
or on events in the lives of kings and heroes. The dialogue is 
chiefly recitative, interspersed with solos, choruses and dancing. 
Instrumental music accompanies the singing. There is always 
the clown or jester on these occasions, who has his turn in the 
course of the performance, and roars of laughter greet the broad 
jokes he furnishes. The whole performance is free. The custom 
is for some person to hire the playei's, and bear the expense of 
the entertainment, inviting his friends, and throwing it open to 
all. Pickled tea is handed round among the guests on these 
occasions as a kind of dessert, mixed with salt, gai-lic, assafojtida 
and a few grains of millet seed. It has an anti-soporific effect, 
and so serves to keep them awake, to listen to the drama. 

The Burman is a firm believer in amusement, in relaxation, 
in holidays. He sees no good in a too streiuious and incessant 
application to the serious business of life. He likes to take life 
easily, and to see plenty of change. Even his religious duties 
usually blend amusement with the seeking after merit. The 
numerous festivals and religious observances serve for frequent 
holidays, and whatever he may fancy in the way of diversion. The 



Biirman is indolent, casual, unstable and uncertain, and not to 
be depended upon. He does not readily conform to discipline or 
lestraint, and it is found very difficult to make a soldier or a 
policeman of him. It is difficult to get him into a routine of 
any kind. He makes a very indifferent servant. In Burma the 
British Government cannot depend upon Burmans in the con- 
stitution of the police force, but finds it necessary to man the 
greater part of the police ranks with natives of India, enlisted 
chiefly from among the fighting races of the Punjab. 

In mitigation of the indictment against the Burman that he is 
loose, careless and lazy, it is urged that he is fettered by the 
multiplicity of lucky and unlucky days, and various astrological 
difficulties, which we do not appreciate. But when every allowance 
is made for these things, it must be found a true bill against 
him. This is one of the weak points in his character. 
' Even in school life this feature of the national character 
abundantly manifests itself. The boys, instead of kee^^ing to one 
school, are fond of attending school after school, changing from 
one to another, until they have gone the round of all within 
their reach, when they will start to go the round again. One 
might almost suppose they thought there was a school where 
they could learn by magic, and that they were in search of that 
school. Such a crying evil has this become in Burma, that 
stringent rules have had to be framed by the Department of 
Public Instruction to check this incessant migration. 

If the Burman has the faults of a careless, happy-go-lucky 
race, he has the virtues also. He has been called the Irishman 
of the East. His manners have the ease and the polish of a 
" gentleman born." He is most affable and approachable, and in 
rehgion tolerant of the opyiions of others. He is hospitable, and 
will help the destitute stranger without making too many 
inquuies. I met one day in Mandalay an English sailor, who 
had made his way up from Rangoon with another man. They 
had clone the last two hundred miles on foot. They were both 
quite destitute, and yet they had travelled all that distance, for 
the most part of it far from any Englishman, and that, too, when 
the country was in a most disturbed state on account of dacoits. 



and without knowing a word of Burmese. They had simply 
passed on from village to village, their wants being supplied by 
the Burmans where they halted. That this should have been 
possible speaks well for the kind-hearted hospitality of the 

If it is one of the marks of a gentleman to be able in an easy 
and natural manner to place himself on a level with you, the 
Burman has this in a high degree. The native of India makes a 
twofold mistake here. His outlandish notions of etiquette lead 
him to cringe and crouch before the European, to an extent 
which is sometimes offensive, whilst at the same time his caste 
leads him in his heart of hearts to hold himself immeasurably 
above him. The Burman makes neither of these mistakes. 
With fine tact he steers a medium course, and ranges himself 

The first Burmese servant I had, a typical Burman, was a 
fine illustration of this capacity of the race to " make themselves 
at home " with the foreigner. He did me the honour to take a 
fancy to my tooth brush. I was not aware of it. He did not 
purloin it, he only made use of it. The way it came to light 
was the discovery of him one day, standing before the looking- 
gla«s, in the act of using the implement in the orthodox manner. 
How long the two of us had been using the tooth brush conjointly 
I cannot say, for I never cared to inquire. I preferred to think 
it was only that once ! He had it to himself ever after. 

A stoiy is told that aptly illustrates that buoyancy of tem- 
perament which constitutes one feature of the Burmese easy-going 
character. Some years ago a fire occurred in Mandalay — no 
uncommon thing. Amongst the bamboo houses it spread with 
terrible swiftness, until a large number were destroyed. Yet 
the very next evening they were observed to have rigged up a 
rude stage among the charred stumps of their house posts, and 
they spent the night in witnessing one of their dramatic per- 
formances, and laughing heartily as usual at the jests of the 
clown. Few people would have had the heart to go through 
with that ])WG under the circumstances. 

With a rich country, a sparse population, and a warm climate, 



the conditions of life are easy. The Biirman has no struggle to 
get a living. Riches have little attraction for him. He has 
no desire to hoard. What he has to spare he spends, either 
in building a monastery, or a pagoda, or on some humbler 
work of merit which shall secure him an advantage in the next 




THE American Baptist Mission is the oldest Protestant mission 
working in Burma. It was commenced by Dr. Judson in 
Rangoon in 1813, and has expanded in Lower Burma to a large 
and strong mission, having had very signal and rapid success 
amongst the Karen races, and to a fair extent amongst the 
Burmans also. As far back as 1824, Dr. Judson, wishing to 
extend the work to Upper Burma, went up the Irrawaddy and 
opened a mission at Ava, which was then the capital. Ava is 
situated about ten or twelve miles from Mandalay, and is now 
quite an insignificant village, with the remains of the royal city 
and palace still to be seen. Mandalay, of course, did not at that 
time exist as a town. Unfortunately, the first Burmese war with 
England took place whilst Judson was at Ava, and completely 
broke up the work he had begun to do in the capital, and Judson 
was imprisoned, together with the few European and American 
residents, at Ava. 

For a year and ten months he was kept in rigorous confine- 
ment, under circumstances of great barbarity, first at Ava, and 
afterwards at the village of Oung-pen-la, which Is only about two 
miles from Mandalay. I have often been to Oung-pen-la, a 
typical Burmese agricultural village, surrounded by rice fields, 
which are iii-igated from the great Oung-pen-la lake, close by. 
The site of the old prison is still pointed out by the villagers, but 
the building itself has been removed, and, being of teak, has left 




no trace behind. Seldom have the annals of missions furnished 
a more pathetic narrative of suftering than this. 

" On the 8th of June," wrote Mrs. Judson, " just as we were 
preparing for dinner, in rushed an officer, holding a black book, 
with a dozen Burmans, accompanied by one, who from his spotted 
face we knew to be an executioner, and a ' son of the prison.' 
' Where is the teacher ? ' was the first inquiry. Mr. Judson 
presented himself. ' You are called by the king,' said the officer, 
— a form of speech always used when about to arrest a criminal. 
The spotted man instantly seized Mr. Judson, threw him on the 
floor, and produced the small cord, the instrument of torture." 

With this the prisoner was bound and dragged off to the court 
house, where the governor of the city and the officers were 
collected, and one of them read the order of the king, to commit 
Mr. Judson to the death-prison. He was suspected of being in 
communication with the English, with whom they were at war, 
though of coui'se lie had nothing to do with them. 

This was the beginning of his long imprisonment. Whilst in 
prison Judson suffered much. He was loaded with fetters, which 
left their marks on his limbs till the day of his death. He was 
placed in the common prison, amidst dirt and noisome smells, in 
charge of ferocious jailers, who had to be continually plied with 
presents to secure for him tlie very necessaries of existence. At 
night it was the custom to secure the safe keeping of the prisoners 
by enclosing their feet in a kind of stocks, several of them in a 
row, the stocks being then hoisted up into the air a little way, so 
that the feet were elevated higher than the head, which must 
have caused great pain and inconvenience. During a great part 
of the time of this captivity the prisoners were in a state of 
dreadful suspense, not knowing whether they miglit not be put to 
death any day or hour. More than once the design was formed 
to kill them, but by the Providence of God that intention was 
never carried out. 

The death-prison was constructed of boards, and was rather 
stronger than a common Burman dwelling-house. There were no 
windows nor other means of admitting the air, except by such 
crevices as always exist in a simple board house, and only one small 



outer door. What must have been their state with one hundred 
prisoners of all classes huddled together, including the worst of 
criminals, all shut up in one room, loaded with fetters, in the 
sweltering heat of the hot season of Upper Burma, where the 
thermometer rises every day to 110° in the shade? Prisoners 
were continually dying of disease, as well as by violent treatment, 
and yet the place was always full. Several sepoys, and occasion- 
ally English soldiers, prisoners of war, swelled the lists of the 
miserable. These poor creatures, having no regular supply of 
food, were often brought to the very verge of starvation ; and 
then, on some worship day, the women would come, as a work of 
charity, to the prison with rice and fruit, and the miserable 
sufferers, maddened by starvation, would eat and die. 

Suddenly, in May, the very hottest month of the year, when 
life is a burden, even with all that can be done to mitigate the 
effects of the climate, and when for Europeans to go out in the 
sun unprotected is at the peril of their lives, the prisoners were 
removed from the prison at Ava to Amarapoora, and after that 
to Oung-pen-la. They were made to walk barefoot a journey 
of nine miles, chained together two by two. The Burman guards, 
by a refinement of cruelty, instead of making the journey in 
the cool of the day or night, set out at eleven o'clock in the 
day, so that they were under the scorching sun all the time, the 
sand and gravel like burning coals to tread upon, first blistering 
their feet, and then taking the wiiole of the skin off. One of the 
European prisoners, a Greek, who when taken out of prison was 
in his usual health, fell down on the way, and expired in an hour 
or two after their arrival, doubtless from sunstroke. The others 
reached Oung-pen-la more dead than alive. 

The sufferings of Judson's devoted wife were scarcely less 
severe than his own all this time, although she was not imprisoned. 
During all the months he lay imprisoned at Ava she was harassed 
with the most consuming anxiety for her husband, and had con- 
stantly to exert herself to the utmost to get him food into the 
prison. During that time her child was born. The removal of 
the prisoners to Oung-pen-la occurred when the babe was only 
three months old. It occurred suddenly and unknown to her 



and when she found him gone, she knew not whither to go 
seeking him. She sent first to the place of execution, fearing the 
worst, but they were not there ; and then she had to follow the 
party as best she could, finding them at last at Oung-pen-la. 
The very morning after their arrival there, the little Burmese 
girl she had with her, to help with the baby, was taken ill of 
smallpox, and the babe of three months took it from her. After 
that Mrs. Judson herself was taken seriously ill, and for two 
months lay helpless on a mat on the floor of the wretched little 
hut, where she had taken- vip her abode, to be near her husband 
in the prison. When the child recovered, the mother was unable 
to nurse her, so that, being deprived of her usual nourishment, 
the infant suffered greatly. Neither a nurse nor a drop of cow's 
milk could be procured in the village. However, by making 
presents to the jailers — nothing could be done without presents — 
she obtained leave for Dr. Judson to come out of prison daily, 
in order to carry the emaciated little creature round the village, 
to the houses of those women who were suckling children, and 
toibeg them for pity's sake to give each a little, to keep the life 
in the child ! 

In this way the twenty-two weary months of his captivity 
passed, amidst hardships, sickness and anxiety unspeakable. At 
length release came. On the advance of the English army up 
the Irrawaddy, Dr. Judson was sent for to the Burmese camp, 
being then a most valuable man, to serve as interpreter and 
translator, and to negotiate terms of peace ; and thus their long 
captivity came to a close. 

Ardently as Judson longed to see his mission established in 
Upper Burma in his day, sixty years were destined to elapse 
before the society to which he belonged secured a permanent 
footing there. It was after the annexation in 1886 that work 
was permanently taken up by them in Mandalay. A handsome 
church has recently been erected there at a cost of about .£3,000, 
by contributions from America and Burma, as a memorial of 
Dr. Judson, and the mission has met with a fair share of success. 
In addition to Mandalay, three other stations have been taken up 
by the American Baptist Mission in Upper Burma — viz., Sagaing, 



Myingyan and Meiktila, and one medical missionary has gone to 
the Shan States. Bhamo was occupied previously, during King 
Theebaw's reign, for work amongst the Kachin tribes. 

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (S. P. G.) began 
its work in Mandalay under the comparatively favouring auspices 
of King Mindohn, the father and immediate predecessor of 
Theebaw. This monarch built for the mission, at his own cost, 
very commodious and handsome premises of teak wood, consisting 
of a church, a .mission house, and a school, which still remain. 
In the church is a handsome font, the appropriate gift of Queen 
Victoria to this church, built by the munificence of a heathen 
king ! Theebaw, when a boy, was a pupil in that school, and 
there was no thought then of his succeeding to the throne. He 
made very little progress with English study, though he had a 
good reputation for Buddhist lore. 

Owing to the massacres and other grievous disorders of 
Theebaw's reign, the mission had to be closed for several years, 
the missionaries, along with all tlie other English residents, having 
to leave Mandalay. On the annexation being declared, the 
S. P. G. mission was reopened, and subsequently another station 
was opened at Shwebo, and these two stations, with a sub-station 
at Madeya, have experienced a fair share of prosperity since. 

During the six years these two missions have been re-established 
in Upper Burma, the effects of the climate upon the health and 
liv^es of the missionaries have been very marked. Both missions 
have already their record of the faithful dead — mission workers, 
both male and female, who have fallen in the prime of life, and 
one before she had well begun her mission work. In both missions, 
too, during that time several valued workers have had to leave 
the country, worn down by sickness, and unable to endui'e the 

The Wesleyan Mission commenced work in Mandalay at the 
beginning of 1887. Up to date we number three European mis- 
sionaries, two Singhalese workers (from Ceylon), and tliree other 
native preachers, and we have occupied three stations, Mandalay, 
Pakokku and Kyaukse. The story of our work will appear in 
the subsequent pages. 



Coming now to the subject belonging to the second half of this 


I wish to deal with a matter, partly suggested by the recital of 
the sufferings of Judson just related, upon which something needs 
to be said. It has often appeared to me that there still lingers, 
in the minds of many people, a very erroneous ideal of missions 
and missionaries, which it is quite time to do away with. A 
recent writer has aptly e:s:pressed the notion to which I refer in 
these words : — 

"The more barren the missionary's lot of all comfort, the 
greater tne degree of self-denial and privation that can be en- 
countered, the better. What he has really undertaken is to 
carry the Gospel to the destitute, and so to live as to secure the 
longest, fullest and most complete career of usefulness along that 
line. But this is not the view of the malcontents ; they regard 
him as a spectacle, an ascetic, an object lesson in self-denial. It 
is not so much what he does as what he suffers. The chief end 
is the impression which he makes on men's minds by his self- 

This may seem at first sight rather a strong putting of the case, 
but I think it will be apparent, as we proceed, that it is nearer 
the popular notion than the reader may at first be prepared to 
admit. The first witness I will cite is John G. Paton, missionary 
to the New Hebrides. If the reader has not yet read his 
book, let me urge him to do so without delay. In the earlier 
days of his missionary life on the island of Tanna, he passed 
through a period of almost unexampled trial from the brutal 
savagery of the natives, owing to the fact that there was no such 
thing as law, justice, or protection of any kind to be obtained. 
His trials were such as few men could have endured, and lived. 
The people were utterly uncivilised, bloodthirsty, quarrelsome, 
superstitious and vindictive. Human life was scarcely of any value 
among them, and they were cannibals.' His life was attempted 
times without number. Other missionaries and native Christian 
teachers were murdered, and done to death by them one way or 



another, and how he escaped death amongst them seems nothing 
short of miraculous. 

At length a crisis more acute than usual came, and the wicked 
and superstitious malice of the Tannese broke out against him to 
such a degree that he was driven out of the island, all his property- 
was looted, and he barely escaped with his life. In his distress 
he went over to Australia to recruit his health, which must have 
needed it after such a strain. Of what occurred there I quote 
his own statement : — 

" Some unsophisticated souls who read these pages will be aston- 
ished to learn, but others who know more of the heartless selfish- 
ness of human creatures will be quite prepared to hear, that my 
leaving Tanna was not a little criticised, and a great deal of 
nonsense was written, even in Church magazines, about the 
breaking up of the Mission. All such criticism came, of course, 
from men who were themselves destitute of sympathy, and who 
probably never endured one pang for Jesus in all their comfort- 
able lives. Conscious that I had, to the last inch of life, tried to 
do my duty, I left all results in the hands of my only Lord, and 
all criticisms to His unerring judgment. Hard things also were 
occasionally spoken to my face. One dear friend, for instance, 
said, * You should not have left. You should have stood at the 
post of duty till you fell. It would have been to your honour, and 
better for the cause of the Mission, had you been killed at the post 
of duty like the Gordons and others.' 

" I replied, ' / regard it as a yreater honour to live and to work 
for Jesus than to he a self-made martyr. God knows that I did 
not refuse to die ; for I stood at the post of duty, amid difficulty 
and danger, till all hope had fled, till everything I had was lost, 
and till God, in answer to prayer, sent a means of escape. I left 
with a clear conscience, knowing that in doing so I was following 
God's leading, and serving the Mission too. To have remained 
longer would have been to incur the guilt of self-murder in the 
sight of God.' " 

These sentiments, especially the words I have italicised, do 
honour alike to Paton's devotion and to . his common sense, and 
they are a just rebuke of a very false ideal. 



Happening to take up one day an influential religious news- 
■ paper, I met with a notice of John G. Paton's book, which spoke 
in very high terms of it, and of him, concluding with the follow- 
ing sentence, in which the editor most innocently and unconsciously 
brings up in another form this same false ideal, even after reading 
the book ; which shows how prevalent the error is, and difficult 
to eradicate. Now that civilisation is spreading, and owing to 
the general extension of facilities for travel to every part of the 
earth, it is to be feared that such records of missionary experience 
will soon be amongst the things of the past." It is to be 
feared " say the stay-at-home people, and editors in easy chairs. 
Any missionary, especially Paton himself, would have said, " It is 
to be /iopetZ." If the i-eader will but ponder that word "/earecZ," 
and take in all that it means, he will see that it is the very 
notion Paton complains of, and that I am here seeking to correct. 

We still need to take to heart Dr. Johnson's exhortation to 
" clear our minds of cant." After praying times without number 
that cannibalism, and all the cruel horrors and barbarities of 
heathenism might come to an end, we are found fearing that 
our prayer is so near being answered, that soon there will be no 
more such tales to tell ! 

The immense wave of sympathy that was evoked through the 
lamented illness and death of Father Damien, and which spread 
throughout the civilised w^orld, was another proof of the prevalence 
of the " object lesson " ideal of the missionary. Missionaries had 
been at work succouring and tending lepers for many years before 
that, and a noble society, the Mission to Lepers, established in 
1874, has now some thirty homes for lepers under its care, in 
India, Burma and China, under the management of twelve difi'er- 
ent Protestant missionary societies. But all this vm'k goes on in 
comparative obscurity, the whole of it together not attracting 
one hundredth part of the sympathy and notice that this one 
case of suffering attracted. Father Damien died of leiwosy. 

Tliis^ THIS is what we want; this touches our hearts and our 
pockets," cries out universal Christendom. It seems it is not 
mission woi-k but missionary sufferings the people want to hear 
about. A false ideal. 



A further proof how widespread is this notion will appear from 
a recent article in the March number of tiie Missionary Reviev) 
of the Wo7'ld for the year 1892. The writer states it as frankly as 
words and I'epetition can express it, quite unconscious that there 
is anything wi-ong about it. The article is on " Missionary Fellow- 
ship." It is not written by a missionary ; no missionary could 
possibly write such rank nonsense. This is what he says: " Suffer- 
ing, after all, is the test of missionary character. ... It is not so 
much what the missionary does as what he is, and what he is can 
be shown only by suffering for the Gospel's sake." He goes on to 
say that it is Judson's and his wife's sufferings in Burma, more 
than their missionary labours, that " canonise them as martyrs 
of modern missions " ; and there is a good deal more " high 
falutin ' " of the same kind. 

To my mind this is a false and absurd ideal — mischievously 
false. Men have gone on thinking it, and occasionally saying it, 
until they fail to see the falsity and absurdity ; but if we think 
for a moment we must admit that the Bible tells us that every 
missionary's work, every Christian's ivo7'k, must be the test of 
the man, and not his sufferings, and gives no countenance 
whatever to this error. Our sufferings are matters for which 
we are not personally answerable in any way, except as we may 
cause them ourselves ; otherwise they are beyond our control, and 
can be therefore no test of the man. Judson would have been 
one of the very greatest of missionaries, all the same, if he had 
never seen the inside of a Burmese prison. His lifetime of earnest 
evangelistic labours, his Burmese Bible, his two dictionaries, his 
Burmese grammar, his other precious literary remains, and the 
many souls saved throiigh his instrumentality, and long since gone 
to gloiy — these are the enduring monuments that entitle him to 
our reverence, and constitute that bright example which some 
of us are humbly trying to follow. His sufferings wei'e indeed 
severe, but to dwell upon them, and laud them as being of far 
more importance than his work, not only does an injustice 
to the memory of the man himself, but it feeds a false ideal, 
and keeps from view the real purpose for which we go to the 



The sooner we give up this nonsense entirely, and take our 
stand upon truth and common sense, the sooner shall we find the 
sound, and only sure basis for that increase of missionary enthu- 
siasm, which is so much needed at the present time. So long as 
our enthusiasm is based upon any such shadowy and precarious 
foundation as the sufferings of missionaries, whether supposed 
or real, so long will the results disappoint us. 

But there is a further objection against this false ideal, on the 
ground that abroad, in the. mission field, it gives rise to a power- 
ful and subtle temptation in some minds, and leads to waste of 
precious power. In most mission fields the hardness of the hearts 
of many of the heathen, and the deep sense of isolation from the 
people which the missionary feels, and which is inevitable from 
the difference of race, language and habits, are so distressing, that 
there are few conscientious souls that have not felt, at some time 
or other, a strong tendency towards an ascetic mode of life : " ! 
let me do this, let me do that, let me do anything, if I can only 
come nearer the people." There is quite enough tendency to this 
abroad, without its being further stimulated by a demand at 

" But what do you mean by asceticism 1 Where do you draw 
the line?" 

By asceticism I mean the deliberate — sometimes even ostenta- 
tious — cutting down of provision as to food, clothing, dwelling, and 
general comfort, to a point obviously belov) the standard of health 
and efficiency ; this standard being naturally fixed at an approxi- 
mation to that of the mode of life to which the missionary has 
previously been accustomed. My own experience of missionary 
life, extending over nineteen years, is that I have always 
had to work much harder than if I had been in England, 
and, whilst the mode of living must needs be very plain and 
temperate to be healthy, the food must be nourishing, and the 
surroundings in a fair degree of comfort, or it will soon lead 
to a collapse. 

I do not condemn economy ; God forbid ! No one believes in 
that more than I do. I entertain strong views as to the import- 




ance of a humble, simple, unostentatious manner of life, and have 
always practised it. Nor do I wish to state that the missionary 
has no need of self-denial. A man cannot be even a disciple 
without self-denial. Without it, as a missionary he would be 
useless ; and I may testify, in all simplicity, that I have known 
what it was to practise it, and have reaped the sweet and 
precious fruits of it. But if that hymn of Keble's is true any- 
where it is true in the missionary's life — 

"The trivial round, the common task, 
Will furnish all we ought to ask ; 
Koom to deny ourselves ; a road 
To bring us, daily, nearer God." 

All we ought to ask " ; missionary life with its labours, cares 
and anxieties, often in an exhausting climate ; its frequent and 
sore disappointments, its loneliness, the separation from friends 
and children, and the special call sometimes to new and untried 
spheres of duty ; its sense of heavy responsibility in having to 
stand practically alone, at the head of a band of native helpers, 
and to be expected to supply enthusiasm for everybody about 
him — these, the necessary and unavoidable trials, are the legiti- 
mate means of denying himself ; and they afford infinite scope for 
useful, holy service, and they are quite enough, without going 
further afield, like Don Quixote, in search of more. 

I trust my readers will bear with me whilst I give the details 
of some cases I have known, where honoured brethren and sisters 
have felt moved to attempt the ascetic method, in order that we 
may observe how it works. 

I knew a pious devoted missionary of another Society. He 
was a man of decidedly ascetic life. One of the ordinary diseases 
of the country, not generally fatal, assailed him. His constitu- 
tion, in the opinion of those best able to judge, was so weakened 
by his ascetic life that he could not rally, but died in the prime 
of life. Humanly speaking, he died before his time, and one fails 
to see that his death constitutes any adequate object lesson, to 
compensate for the loss of his active usefulness. A missionary's 
continued and useful life ought to be a much greater benefit to 



a country than the deposit of his remains in the soil, and the 
example of a living worker is surely more influential than the 
memory of one departed. 

I knew a missionary and his wife, earnest, devoted, exceedingly 
kind to the people, and successful. From the first of their 
settling in the country, their asceticism was so marked that their 
friends, who saw it, pleaded with them to eat more food and 
better food, but in vain. Being new to the country, they did not 
know the risks they ran. After barely two years of earnest work, 
ill health compelled their retirement from the field, with scarcely 
any prospect of ever returning. And yet there was no kind of 
necessity for them to live thus. They appeared to think there 
was some virtue in self-denial of this type, merely for its ow^n 

Another case of the same kind was that of an unmarried 
missionary lady, with a strong natural tendency to asceticism. 
She was an able and diligent missionary, and well acquainted 
with the language. After some years of missionary life, the 
tendency grew upon her to such an extent, that she withdrew 
more and more from association with her own people, lived with 
none but natives, on native food, and broke off one comfort after 
another, until even bread was too much of a luxury ! After a 
year or eighteen months of this ascetic life, her health broke 
down so completely that she had to return home to America or 

One of our brethren in India has told us his story of a similar 
attempt. It was a sense of duty that urged him to come down 
to native diet, native dress, and general mode of life ; and very 
loyally to this sense of duty did he persevere for many months. 
But, to his infinite sorrow, he found that instead of bringing him 
any nearer to the people, it seemed only to increase the distance ; 
for it aroused their suspicions as to his motives for doing so. He 
found at length that he could have reached them better if he had 
moved amongst them in the ordinary way. But meanwhile the 
penalty of all this had come; his health so completely broke 
down, clearly in consequence of this method of living, that he 
had to leave India, and now for several years he has been laid 



aside completely in England, unable to do any regular work. 
He is the victim of an honest, and very persistent, but mistaken 
attempt to live an ascetic missionary life. 

As regards the wearing of the native dress, it has often been 
assumed that to do so must needs place a missionary more in 
touch with the natives. But in India it is not found that such 
is really the case. With the exception of the Salvation Army, 
this is the only case in India where I ever heard of its being 
attempted, and it had quite the contrary effect. I have heard 
that a venerable missionary once tried it in Burma, but the 
peals of laughter that greeted his appearance in the streets 
instantly convinced him that he could gain nothing by that 
method. There are probably cases where it is advisable, and 
even almost necessary, to assume the dress of the country. 
Each case should be judged upon its own merits, and it greatly 
depends what kind of a dress it is. In India and Burma they 
like to see the man be himself, and they respect you for keeping 
to the customs you have been brought up with. 

The following is a faithful account of an heroic, but ill-judged 
and disastrous, missionary enterprise in Burma, in substance as 
I had it from the lips of one of the survivors, who paid me a visit 
in Mandalay, a few of the particulars being supplied by another 
missionary well acquainted with the facts. I wish that all my 
readers could have heard the touchingly simple recital, and 
witnessed the gentle and refined Christian bearing of this ex- 
cellent brother. It is the narrative of a small mission, sent out 
by evangelical Christians in Denmark to the Red Karens, an 
independent tribe of demon worshippers, dwelling in Karennee, 
on the eastern frontier of Burma. My informant is a Dane. 
It will be observed that the bane of the whole enterprise was 
the ascetic idea, imbi})ed at home, and in this case carried out 
to the bitter end. The case serves to show also what a formidable 
difficulty to foreign evangelism we have in the mere matter of 
the climate. 

Near the close of 1884, two young men, Danish missionaries, 
Hans Polvsen and Hans Jansen, arrived in Burma, with the 

A falsi: 3II8SI0NAiRY IDEAL. 


purpose of establishing this mission. On their arrival they 
looked the very picture of health. They had both been inured 
to hard work from their youth, and they were devout men, and 
entii-ely given up to work for the Master. Though receiving aid 
at first from home, they hoped soon to make the mission self- 
suppoiting. They therefore undertook to do all the manual 
labour themselves. Where others rode they would walk. Where 
others employed natives they would do their own work. They 
would cook their own food, and live in the simplest manner, even 
like the natives of the land. Had the sphere of their mission 
been the wilds of America, or any country at all similar in climate 
to their native Denmark, it would have been the right policy, 
and they might have succeeded. But they soon had painful 
proof that there are laws in Nature, from which even missionaries 
are not exempt ; and one of these laws is that we cannot do with 
impunity in the tropics what we may do in the temperate 

Some time after their arrival, an opportunity occurred for 
going into Karennee, and they prepared to start for their destina- 
tion. By way of preparation they gave away all their extra 
goods, medicines, clothing, etc., fancying that Matthew x. en- 
couraged such a course. We cannot but place in contrast this 
conduct with that of a man like Livingstone. His was a self- 
denying work, if ever there was one ; he believed in doing the 
work God called him to do, no matter what difficulties stood in 
the way. But he was no believer in asceticism — i.e., needless 
suffering for suffering's own sake. He relates in his " Last 
Journals " how, when he found his medicine chest was hopelessly 
lost, through the carelessness of a native carrier, he felt as if his 
death warrant were sealed. But these people thought it right to 
give away their medicines and goods on leaving the confines of 
civilisation. Before leaving Toungoo they were faithfully warned 
by experienced missionaries of the American Baptist Mission, 
that such a course as they were entering upon, at the beginning 
of the rains, was exceedingly hazardous; but their notions of 
trust in Providence prevented them from paying any heed to 
this counsel. 



They reached Karennee, after a rough journey over the moun- 
tains and through the jungles, and proceeded at once to put up 
for themselves a house, and establish the mission according to 
their ideas. It is difficult for any one not knowing the country 
to conceive how hard their lot would be. Their sufferings were 
extreme. Hard work and exposure, together with poor food, and 
only the shelter of a bamboo house, that afforded no proper 
protection from the pitiless rains, and damp, cold blasts, soon broke 
down their health. Fever, the great bane of trojDical malarious 
regions, soon found them out. Hans Polvsen died before the rains 
were over, and Jansen was brought into Toungoo by the American 
Baptist missionaries, more dead than alive, and kindly nursed 
and brought round. A new party from Denmark now reached 
Toungoo, consisting of Knudsen, his wife, and Miss Jansen, the 
sister of Hans, and the four set out for Karennee. Here the 
former experiences were renewed; for the party had not yet 
learnt wisdom, even by such terrible sufferings. Soon they were 
all very ill. Miss Jansen died : after that a babe, born to the 
Knudsens after reaching Karennee, was also taken. The stricken 
father had to get up from his sick-bed to make the coffins. They 
could get no meat, no bread, no milk, none of the ordinary 
comforts of civilised life, nothing but an inferior kind of rice, 
which they could not eat when sick, and which no European 
could thrive and work upon, even in health. Jansen was warned 
by an English doctor passing through the place with troops, that 
he must get away from Burma, or he would soon die. He went 
to Toungoo again, recovered a little, and, against the earnest 
advice of the doctor there, who warned him that he went at the 
peril of his life, he determined to start on a third journey for 
their chosen mission field. But he never again entered Karennee. 
On reaching the foot of the great mountain range, he seated 
liimself beneath the shade of a beautiful arching clump of 
bamboos, and there breathed out his devoted life. It is charac- 
teristic of the i)opular, but false ideal of the missionary life 
entertained by many people at home, that, as my infoi^nant put 
it, — for by that time his eyes were opened to see the matter in its 
true light, — " They were inclined to make more of the ' heroism' 



of that unwise act of returning, and dying on the way, than they 
would if he had fulfilled a long career of useful service." 

The Knudsens became so completely broken down in health 
that they too were compelled to leave Karennee. Thus this little 
mission, begun with the highest of motives, and carried on with 
quenchless, self-sacrificing, prayerful zeal, was entirely and hope- 
lessly wrecked, through its adherence to ascetic principles, and 
had to be finally abandoned, after five years of heroic, but utterly 
wasted, labour and suffering, and without any appreciable impres- 
sion being produced upon the natives of that region. 

I shall naturally be asked, " What then about those larger 
missionary organisations, in different parts of the world, that put 
asceticism (not economy) avowedly in the forefront, as one of 
their leading principles % " Well, I will only say of them, in 
brief, that where it is asceticism as defined above, and not mere 
economy, facts and experiences have proved that, in the tropics, 
it has resulted in a far heavier death-rate, in far more total or 
partial failures of health, and, as human nature has its limits 
of endurance, in a considerable addition to the numbers in the 
column headed " retired from the work." A proper deduction 
made from the working strength of such missions, on account of 
these non-effectives, would show, perhaps, that the cheapness 
supposed to be attained, is more apparent than real. 

On one occasion it was pointed out to the great Napoleon that 
he was losing a great many men in a battle ; he is credited with 
the cynical reply, " You cannot have omelettes without breaking 
eggs." In like manner one at least of these oi-ganisations has 
said boldly, " You cannot have a war without losing soldiers." 

True ; but if the greater part of this loss is clearly needless and 
preventible, and if it is the result of want of proper provision 
being made, and through the neglect of proper precautions of the 
most ordinary kind — then even the sacredness of the purpose does 
not justify the recklessness of the methods. 

" Alas, that bread should be so dear ! 
And flesh and blood so cheap ! " 



There remains only one more point which I need to mention, 
and that is the utter futility of the ascetic method, if it is used 
with any intention of impressing the Oriental mind. The utmost 
degree of asceticism which any European could ever think it right 
to adopt, in the discharge of his duties as a missionary, would, to 
an Oriental, fall far short of his ideal of self-denial, and would 
not be worth the name. A writer, with wide experience of 
India, has put this so well, that I may as well quote his words. 

" The Hindus understand real asceticism perfectly well, and 
revere it as a subjugation of the flesh ; and if the missionary and 
his wife carried out the ascetic life as Hindus understand it, lived 
in a hut, half or wholly naked, sought no food but what was 
given them, and suffered daily some visible physical pain, they 
might stir up the reverence which Hindus pay to those who are 
palpably superior to human needs. But in their eyes there is 
no asceticism in the life of the mean white, the Eurasian writer, 
or the Portuguese clerk, but only a squalor unbecoming a teacher, 
and one who professes, and must profess, scholarly cultivation." 

I have ventured, not without due reflection, to point out in 
this chapter what seems to be a very false ideal of missions and 
missionaries. The setting up of the missionary as a spectacle, an 
object lesson in self-denial, may be a time-honoured institution, 
but it ought certainly to give way now to some more rational 
method of recommending this important enterprise. I do not 
mean to say that this mistake has been universal, or even general. 
Many people of knowledge and common sense have risen above it. 
But the evidences of this idea to be found still in prominent 
places at home, and the instances of it abroad, which are here 
cited, prove that there has been in popular thought too much 
leaning in that direction, and show that there is need to point 
out the fallacy, and the evil of it. 

When the simple recital of missionary facts includes the actual 
experience of unusual trials and perils — as, alas ! must still be the 
case sometimes — it will always command sympathy and attention ; 
but to represent these things as at all comparable in importance 
to mission worh^ or to suppose that they essentially belong to it, 
is neither true nor judicious. And I have shown that, when this 



tendency is jdelded to in the mission field, it leads to an asceticism 
which produces no increase of usefulness, but a speedy termination 
of the missionary's labours. 

Note. — Since writing the above chapter, an article has appeared 
in the Imlian Medical Reco7'd on " Missionaries and Mortality," 
which is so much to the point, and from such an unexceptionable, 
independent, and competent source, that my readers ought to 
have the benefit of an extract from it : — 

" We would only be just to claim for the missionary every 
safeguard that we apply to the lives of Europeans in other 
callings in India. Good, wholesome food, suitable clothing, a 
proper dwelHng-house, and ordinary English home comforts are 
certainly the least that might be assured to missionaries working 
in India. Deprived of these vital necessaries, it is no wonder 
that men unused to the enervating influence of the tropics, 
burdened with cares and anxieties in the arduous work of an 
Indian mission field, should rapidly succumb to conditions so 
trying and hostile to their constitutions. 

" We have end^eavoured to obtain all the information we could 
upon this important subject, and we are astounded, both from 
our own personal experience, and from reports which reach us 
from numerous quarters, at the fearful havoc that goes on yearly 
in the ranks of the various missionary bodies who labour in these 
foreign mission fields. We have seen scores and scores of men 
come to the country seemingly full of vigour and spirits, who 
within two or three years either die at their posts, or retire dis- 
abled temporarily, and often permanently, with enfeebled health 
or utterly ruined constitutions. 

" From one of the statements sent us we learn that the mortality 
has been as high as twenty-two per cent, in a society that only 
finds a small portion of the monthly maintenance allowance for 
its missionaries. In another society that works on similar lines 
the death-rate is eighteen per cent, per annum. In another, in 
which the members work without any allowance, and are com- 
pelled to find their food, shelter, and clothing among the very 
poorest of the Indian people whom they seek to convert, the 



mortality has been as high as thirty-two per cent, per annum; 
while its invalid list yields abundant evidence that its methods, 
while they may be praiseworthy in their ascetic simpUcity, are 
too sacrificial to European life to justify their toleration and 

" Missionary zeal and missionary enterprise have done more for 
India than any State effort could ever hope to accomplish, and 
the best work has been done by those societies which, having a 
due regard for the health and safety of their workers, have pro- 
vided for the proper conservation and protection of their lives; 
and lives thus prolonged and preserved have brought with them 
accumulated experience, which has yielded the advantage not only 
of laying the foundations of lasting and useful work, but of seeing 
it cared for, nourished and brought to fruitful perfection by the 
hands that inaugurated it. Work to be productive of good in the 
mission fields of India must be lifelong. The short service system 
is both imbecile and expensive. The languages and habits of the 
varied peoples of this vast empire cannot be familiarised sufficiently 
for effective work in a few years. But to enjoy good health and 
to protect the lives of missionary workers, it is the bounden duty 
of the great religious societies of England and America to make 
a full and ample provLsion for the support and comfort of their 
representatives in India." 



I WOULD like to give the reader some intelligent idea of what 
it means to establish a new mission in a new country, with an 
elaborate religion like Buddhism in possession of the field, and 
difficult to dislodge. 

We make our way up the Irrawaddy by one of the splendid 
steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, and in due time we 
land at Mandalay, and climb the steep bank of the river, and 
there we are with our few boxes, strangers in a strange land, 
knowing nobody belonging to the place, not a word of the Burmese 
language, with no mission house to turn into, no native Christians, 
and, worst of all, no native helpers. After thirteen years of very 
happy work in Ceylon, where we have a flourishing mission and 
a large staff of native helpers, it required a stout heart to face 
the difficulties of pioneer work, and no little faith, hope and 
perseverance. Especially did we miss the aid of our native 

The chief value of the Eiu-opean missionary, and of the European 
generally, in the East, is in his capacity as a leader of men. 
Upon him devolves the initiation, and the vigorous working out, 
of plans of aggression, and he has to find the enthusiasm for 
everybody about him. But if the European is brain, and heart, 
and hand to the mission, his native brethren are equally indispen- 
sable as the eyes, ears, and feet. My native brother has a 
knowledge of his country, and of his people, and of all that is 
going on, extensive, accurate, and intimate beyond anything I 




can ever attain unto, and he is in touch with his own people as 
no foreigner can ever be — no, not if he spends half a century 
among them. This invaluable help I greatly missed. 

For some days I lodged with the Kev. J. H. Bateson in a 
Buddhist monastery, which had been assigned to him by the 
military authorities. He had arrived from England three weeks 
previously, in the capacity of Wesleyan Chaplain to the Upper 
Burma Field Force. It was one of a considerable number of build- 
ings that had been "annexed" for the temporary accommodation 
of the troojDS, and which were afterwards handed over again to the 
Buddhist monks. It was a fine, substantial teak building, raised 
six or seven feet from the ground, with a broad verandah back 
and front, and consisted of three rooms. The roof was of the 
usual fantastic Burmese style, in triple form, and at one end it 
terminated in a rather tall spire ; and the whole of the building, 
as usual with monasteries, was richly decorated with elaborate 
carvings in wood. Amidst some disadvantages as a residence 
it bad one very obvious advantage, that we paid no rent for it. 

The first duty lying before me was obviously to commence the 
study of the language, and along with that, to look about and 
find the best sites for establishing our mission centres, and for 
the first few months I gave my attention closely to those matters. 
Whilst I was making these preparations for laying the founda- 
tions of our future mission work amongst the natives of the 
country, there was abundance of work also ready to hand 
amongst the soldiers and other English-speaking people, con- 
gregated in a large military and civil station like Mandalay. 
Mr. Bateson had to undertake long journeys to other military 
stations at intervals, in the course of his duties as chaplain to the 
troops, and it fell to my lot to attend to the English congregation 
in his absence. .1 have heard and read of some missionaries who 
have held that it was no part of their duty, as missionaries to the 
heathen, to preach in English at all. But I never could see that 
a white skin, and the fact that a man speaks English, should be 
deemed to disqualify him from receiving Gospel ministrations; 
and I can see no reason why the time and attention given to our 
own countrymen need be allowed to interfere materially with the 



missionary's work for the natives. It is in circumstances such 
as those of Upper Burma at that time, and amidst the rough 
experiences of pioneer life in a new country, that our countrymen 
most need the ministrations of the Gospel. In a heathen land 

and amidst the lax morals which heathenism engenders, absent 
from home and friends, and, as it was then with many, /rom wife 
and family, and all the ordinary restraints and helps of civilised 
life ; in some cases away for months together in lonely stations, 
where there were no Chiistian services of any kind, they were 



sorely tempted to go astray, and do things they never would have 
done at home. I therefore gladly did what I could. 

We had " parade services " for the soldiers, and other public 
services in English, temperance meetings, Bible classes, and 
devotional meetings, in quaint Burmese sacred buildings, with 
the images of Buddha about, wherever we could find a place 
quiet and convenient, for as yet we had no place of our own set 
apart for Christian services. Our first public Sunday services 
for the soldiers were held in the throne room of the royal palace, 
just at the foot of the throne itself. Though this did not mean 
much from a missionary point of view, yet it certainly furnished 
a strange and romantic association of ideas, to be conducting 
Christian worship in such a place as that, in the midst of a 
heathen palace, where there had been such a despotic govern- 
ment, and at times so much cruelty and bloodshed. Ever since 
that time we have had a buitciing set apart within the palace 
precincts for our military services. Many of the meetings, held 
amidst such strange and grotesque surroundings, were owned of 
God to the spiritual benefit of those who attended; and some 
were accompanied by a solemn melting power of the Spirit, con- 
fessions of sin, and aspirations after a better life, such as I have 
seldom witnessed. Doubtless these services were useful in remind- 
ing many of almost forgotten truths, and in reviving blessed 
memories of home and youth, which, amidst the rough life of 
campaigning in Burma, they were too apt to forget. 

It was our happiness, during those first years, never to be 
without some godly association amongst the ofiicers of the 
garrison, and also amongst the civilians ; and though there were 
many removals and changes, we always found some like-minded, 
who took pleasure in assisting in the Gospel and temperance 
work. They belonged to various sections and denominations of 
the Church of Christ, but that made no difference ; we were able 
cordially to work together. 

My colleague, Mr. Bateson, established a temporary Soldiers' 
Home, with a bar for the sale of food and refreshments, and 
convenience for reading, writing and games, in a Burmese build- 
ing granted by the military authorities for the purpose in the 



palace ; and this proved a very welcome resort for large numbers 
of the soldiers, who wished to spend their evenings in a sober 
and rational manner. It did excellent service for a year or two, 
and was eventually closed for the removal of the building ; a 
much larger and far more complete Soldiers' Institute having by 
that time been built and furnished by the military authorities. 

Attractive as this work was in one's own language, and 
amongst one's own people, I felt from the first that the mission 
to the Burmans, though an incomparably more difficult, less 
inviting, and less immediately successful work, was my own most 
pressing duty, and the work for which I had specially come. On 
my arrival in Rangoon I had engaged the services of a young 
Burman, and brought him up to Mandalay that he might teach 
me Burmese, and with him I commenced the study of the language 
at once. But if any one imagines that a native munshee teaches 
as an English teacher teaches, he is greatly mistaken. For want 
of the ability to impart the knowledge he has, the teaching does 
not flow from him as from a fountain ; it has to be laboriously 
pumped out of him, and it requires some ingenuity to find how 
to work that pump, and if you fail to pump, or do not pump 
judiciously, you get nothing. In learning any Oriental language 
you have, in fact, to teach yourself, using the so-called teacher 
in much the same way as you would use the dictionary, or any 
other passive repository of the necessary knowledge. 

In studying Burmese, I found it necessary not only to spend 
as many hours as I could daily with my munshee and my books, 
but to go out amongst the people for the sake of learning the 
spoken language. Every language has some difference between 
its literary and its colloquial style ; and it is quite possible for the 
foreigner to know a good deal that he reads in the books, and yet 
to be quite nonplussed with the ordinary talk of the people. Unless 
the foreigner pays attention to the colloquial, though he may in 
time find himself able to talk after a bookish fashion, he will be un- 
able to make himself properly understood, and unable also to know 
what the people say in reply. For this reason I made a practice 
of going out of an evening, often with one of my children's picture 
books in my hand, and sitting down amongst the Burmans at 



their doors, using the pictures as a means of scraping up a con- 
versation — being myself short of words — with notebook in hand, 
to take down every new word or idiom I heard. As the Burmans 
appreciate pictures very much, I found this plan always made them 
talkative, and thus served my purpose as well as amusing them. 

This puts me in mind of an incident which occurred about that 
time, at a certain Buddhist monastery, where I was in the habit 
of spending an hour or two of an evening, for the purpose of 
talking Burmese. The long guerilla war with the forces of 
disorder and crime was then raging, and the country generally 
was in a very disturbed state. Plot after plot was set on foot for 
creating an organised disturbance, with a view to harass the 
British power, and with some faint hope that they might, by a 
lucky chance, get the mastery. Judge of my surprise, when one 
morning I learnt that fifty of the ringleaders of a plot of that 
kind had been discovered and arrested at midnight, in that very 
monastery where I was in the habit of visiting. Next time the 
local paper appeared we were told that we had narrowly escaped 
such a scene of confusion and bloodshed as was common in the 
time of the Indian mutiny. 

The choice of . a site for the mission premises was the first 
matter to settle. It involved much going to and fro in that great 
city, and much weighing of advantage and disadvantage, for it 
was a most important question. At length a block of Govern- 
ment land 5 J acres in extent was fixed upon. I attended the 
sale. Several pieces of land were put up for sale before ours, and 
the bidding was fairly brisk. When ours was put up I made a 
bid ; not another voice was heard ; they all abstained from bidding 
because the land was for mission purposes, though I had said not 
a word on the matter to anybody, and it was knocked down to us 
at the merely nominal price of one hundred rupees an acre (say 
.£7 IO5.). A substantial mission house of teak was at once com- 
menced, and at the ear liest possible date we moved into it. Later 
on we erected on this land a Boys' Training Institution for 
teachers, and a Girls' Boarding School and Training Institution, 
and a humble beginning has thus been made in the work of train- 
ing native helpers, the end of which who can predict ? 



For the first year we lived there we had no proper roads, and 
when the rainy season came on, we were separated from the rest of 
the world by a sea of soft, tenacious, black mud, ankle deep ; and 
for many days I could not get either to or from the house without 
taking off my shoes and socks, and wading barefoot through it. 
But in course of time these early pioneer experiences became 
things of the past. Other houses were built around us, also the 
Government Courts and offices ; good streets were made and 
lighted with lamps at night, and drains were dug at the sides of 
the roads to run oflf the surplus w^ater, and things gradually got 
into shape. 

In September 1887 two more workers arrived — two Singhalese 
young men, trained by our mission in South Ceylon. We do not 
of course contemplate permanently looking to Ceylon to supply us 
with men, but at the outset of the mission it seemed likely that 
these brethren, being from an older Christian community, and far 
better educated and trained than any Burmans could possibly be 
for years to come, would be able to render us material help in 
the pioneer work, and would bring to bear upon it a degree of 
Christian knowledge, and a maturity of Christian character and 
habits, far in advance of anything in Burma. These two brethren 
are now woi-king in the mission with a fair measure of success, 
and have justified the expectation we foi-med of them. Their 
success in acquiring the language, and their consistent Christian 
life, as they have gone in and out amongst the people, have been 
a stay and a help to the work. 

It was our desire from the first to begin an Anglo-vernacular 
school in Mandalay, as the first of a series of educational efforts. 
It is self-evident to the experienced eye that so long as the youth 
of Burma remain in the hands of the monks, in connection with 
the monastery schools, to learn idleness, and to have all the 
springs of life and thought saturated with Buddhism from their 
youth, the downfall of that religion will be indefinitely postponed. 
We must enter into friendly competition with the monastery 
schools, must take hold of the awakening desire for Western learn- 
ing, and we must give an education so undeniably better than the 
monks can give that we shall thus win our way to success. I 




have used, about equally, each and every kind of missionary 
method within my reach, and I hold no brieT for the educational 
method ; but thirteen years of mission work amongst the Hindus 
in Ceylon, where we have an elaborate system of religion to deal 
with, has shown me that, in the long run. Christian education 
plays quite as important a part in the conversion of the people 
as any other agency. The educational and evangelistic work 
go hand in hand, and we cannot afford to dispense with either. 
Educational work gives a backbone of intelligence and solidity to 
the mission, and to the converts ; it introduces us to the most 
intelligent and influential classes of the people, and gives us a 
powerful influence we could acquire in no other way, and it leads 
dii'ectly to hopeful conversions. So long as we are merely the 
preachers of another religion amongst them, our influence is 
circumscribed within that condition. But if, in addition to that, 
we move amongst the people as the trusted guides and teachers 
of their youth, it vastly increases our power for good. In the 
East the teacher of the young is always treated with the utmost 
respect. And this position of influence, which so legitimately 
belongs to the preachers of the Gospel, we cannot afford to despise 
or forego. 

After advertising for several months for teachers, we managed 
at last to engage a young Christian Karen, from Lower Burma, 
as the teacher, and we began a school in a rented house, near the 
centre of the town. This school has developed into a good Anglo- 
vernacular School. In due course, and after much trouble and 
delay, from having to buy up some twenty or thirty small holdings, 
with bamboo houses on them, we managed to secure and clear a 
good site, and there we ei-ected a neat, substantial brick school- 
chapel, to which our work was transferred from the rented house, 
and there we have regularly held services in English, in Burmese, 
and in Tamil. 

We early commenced street preaching in Mandalay, and have 
continued to hold several open-air meetings every week. As a 
means of publishing the Gospel to the people at large, we have 
found nothing better. The streets of Mandalay are broad and 
spacious, so that even a large crowd does not impede the trafiic. 



The people are generally very willing to listen, tolerant, respect- 
ful, and not inclined to cavil. We usually commence by singing 
a hymn. A number of children are on the scene at once, some of 
them quite naked up to seven or eight years of age. By the time 
we have finished the hymn, a crowd of men, women and children 
has collected, and most of them, having once come, stay till the 
close. The people, as a rule, look well nourished and healthy, but 
in almost every Oriental crowd there are evidences of the preval- 
ence of skin disease, in one form or another. Amongst the Tamil 
people itch is the special form, and in Burma there is quite an 
excess of ringworm. In Burma many of the people are observed 
to be pitted with smallpox, for until lately, vaccination was not 
practised in Upper Burma ; and ophthalmia is not uncommon, 
especially amongst children. The individuals composing the 
crowd change somewhat. Some are only passers-by, and have 
to go about their errands ; others again have to retire, to attend 
to household duties. Occasionally a man leaves because he feels 
a prejudice against hearing the doctrine, or, as one old man put 
it, because if he listened he would only get " mixed" in his mind. 
But for the most part they stay and listen attentively until the 
end. In trying to follow up the address, by conversation with 
the people at their doors after preaching, I have generally found 
the Burmans reticent, but still polite. 

They are certainly good-natured hearers, and give the preacher 
a fair chance. To see them sitting on their heels, or on the 
ground, placidly smoking their cheroots, and looking intently, 
nodding the head occasionally, and interjecting, " Hoakba, 
Hoakba " (true, true), one might go away with the idea that they 
had intelligently taken in the whole discourse, but it does not do 
to be too sanguine about that. It has to be taken into account 
that though they may understand the words used, they are sure 
at first to understand them in a Buddhist sense ; and there is such 
a great deal that is absolutely new to them in Christianity, so 
many strange names and unfamiliar ideas, that the subject matter 
of the discourse is by no means easy for them to understand. 
We are much more liable to underrate than to overrate the 
difiiculty all heathen people have in understanding Christian 



preaching, at the first. In addressing them on the subject of 
religion we must use religious terms. But unfortunately those 
terms have already a Buddhist meaning clinging to them, which 
is widely different from the Christian sense ; and the higher the 
truths to which we are seeking to give expression, the greater 
is the difficulty of putting the meaning into the words at our 
disposal. How are you to get a Buddhist to realise, for example, 
any adequate notion of the Divine Being, when he has no such 
conception in his own religion ? 

True, there is the word " Pay a," and that is the word we have 
to use. But what meaning does that word convey to a Buddhist ? 
It means primarily Buddha himself, and the philologists tell us 
that it is that name in another dress. But Buddha never claimed 
to be God. .He was a sage, philosopher, religious reformer, ascetic, 
who lived and died, and, according to Buddhist teaching, passed 
into Nirvana, five centuries before Christ. " Paya " may mean 
also the image of Buddha ; or it may be applied to the shrine 
in which the image is placed ; or it may be applied — alas ! for the 
degradation of human language — to you, or to me, or to any 
person, Burman or European, whom, for the time being, it is 
worth while to treat with rather a special degree of respect. 
Which of these meanings attaching to this Burmese word " Paya " 
brings us even a single step towards the true conception of the 
Christian revelation of God ? And yet, inadequate as it is, it is 
all the name there is for us to use. 

Even the familiar term " man/' about which it might seem 
there could hardly be two opinions, is subject to the same diffi- 
culty, when it comes to be used in a theological and religious sense. 
What with the doctrines of transmigration, and karmay which, as 
we have already seen, the Burmans all firmly believe, the real 
nature, and circumstances, and final destiny of human beings, as 
we have to teach these truths, are all new and strange to their 

" Sin " is a thing to be recognised and dealt with in preaching ; 
but here again precisely the same difficulty meets you as you 
stand before a congregation of Burman Buddhists. The Burman, 
like other Orientals, will not, probably, deny the fact of sin, but 



if you come to know his notion of what sin is, you will find that 
it is very different from yours, and that the term does not at all 
cover the same ground when used in his language and to him, as 
it does in yours to you. Nor can you, all at once, read into his 
term for sin the ideas you wish to teach, by merely using it in 
preaching ; that reading in of new meanings is a lengthy process. 


Of sacrifice for sin, or the necessity for it, or its efficacy, the 
Buddhist religion knows nothing ; there is no Mediator, no atone- 
ment, no pardon, no renewal of our nature ; so that all allusions 
to these great cardinal truths of the Christian religion will carry 
at first no meaning whatsoever, and the utmost they can do at first 
is to say with the Athenians, " Thou bringest certain strange things 
to our ears : we would know therefore what these things mean." 



The simplicity of the Gospel is often made a theme of in Chris- 
tian circles, and it is simple when one has been trained up from 
infancy in its principles, and facts, and lessons, but in the case of 
a heathen people, brought up in an elaborate system of religion 
alien to Christianity, the simplicity cannot be at all apparent. 

And, should the preacher, unmindful of the uninstructed con- 
dition of his heathen audience, allow himself to slip into the 
well known metaphors, and allusions, and phraseology — that 
" language of Canaan," in which Christians often express them- 
selves on religious subjects — it will become in the vernacular 
nothing more than a jargon. 

An incident will illustrate this. One Sunday afternoon I went, 
in company with a mLssionary brother, who had just arrived in 
Burma, to hold an out-door service. We sang a hymn to begin with, 
which I may say was not with any idea that they would under- 
stand it, but merely to attract the people to come and hear the 
preaching. When the singing was finished, he very naturally 
suggested that it would be well to explain the hymn. It so 
happened that we had, inadvertently, hit upon a Burmese trans- 
lation of that well-known hymn — 

There is a fountain filled witli blood, 

Drawn from Imraanuel's veins, 
And sinners plunged beneath that flood 

Lose all their guilty stains." 

Let me ask the reader to divest his mind for a moment of 
every sacred association surrounding that hymn, and calmly 
consider the words just as they stand, and try to imagine what 
sense, if any, they would convey to the mind of a pious Buddhist, 
whose ideas of sin are totally different from ours, who has no 
conception of the nature or need of a sacrifice or atonement, and 
to whom the shedding of blood, and the taking of all life, even 
the killing of an insect, is utterly abhorrent, as a deadly sin. 
Since that incident I have not been inclined to select that hymn 
for out-door services. 

We avoid controversy in preaching to the Buddhists. It seems 
to be quite unnecessary, and likely to do far more harm than 



good. The best thing we can do is to tell, as simply and plainly 
as we can, such portion of the Scripture narrative, particularly 
the life and teachings of Christ, as we find they can easily grasp, 
and to deal with the more prominent doctrines of the Christian 
religion, as they apply to the hearts and lives of the people before 
us. It is only when a Buddhist has grasped at least the outlines 
of Christian truth, and not before, that he will be in any position 
to assent to the proposition that Buddhism is false. Until he 
does see that, the assertion in public that it is false, together 
with all that is said in disparagement of it, must appear to 
him premature, if not gratuitously abusive. In any case it is 
the unfolding of the truth that convinces, as it is the belief of 
the truth (not disbelief in error) that saves. No Oriental can 
fail to see for himself that the teaching of Christ is antagonistic 
to that of his own religion, on many essential points, and the 
clear exposition of our own teaching, therefore, is far more 
essential than emphasizing the differences. One evening, at a 
street service, a foolish Burman endeavoured to make it out that 
their religion and ours taught the very same. The incredulous 
smiles on the faces of the audience at once showed us that it was 
unnecessary for us to say more than that if their religion taught 
the same as ours, so much the better. The wish was father to 
the thought in that case, and the fact that he saw a difference 
made him anxious to prove there was none. In cases where 
a person wishes to study the teachings of the two religions, and 
compare the two closely, the best plan is to put into his hands 
a tract bearing on the subject, and let him take it home and 
study it, rather than engage in heated controversy in the streets. 

At the same time we do not wish to silence respectful inquiry. 
Occasionally a question has been asked at these street services, 
but we have never experienced anything approaching to abuse or 
disturbance. One evening, not a Burman but a Ponna, an astro- 
loger, one of the fortune-telling fraternity, the descendants of the 
Brahmins from Manipur, spoke up and said he had an inquiry 
to make. It was with reference to the putting away of sin 
through Christ, of which we were speaking, and the inquiry 
seemed quite respectful^ and bond fide. For his part he could 



not see how there could be any putting away of sin. If there 
was, where was it? For example, said he, if a man commits 
murder, he receives the full penalty of his crime in the body by 
hanging; and as for the spirit, that passes, by transmigration, 
at once into some other body, where it receives the appropriate 
consequences of past deeds, according to the man's karma (fate), 
irrespective of any atonement or any intervention of another. 
What place then was there for the pardon and removal of trans- 
gression ? This question will show that in Burma we have to 
do with a people not wanting in acuteness. Our answer was an 
explanation of the Christian doctrine of a future life. 

At the end of our first year we were able to report that we 
had made a beginning in preaching the Gospel in the vernacular. 
It was a humble beginning, and consisted only of reading to a 
small congregation, in the little rented schoolroom, before we 
built our own, a short written address ; only a beginning, but a 
beginning in the light direction. We were also glad to welcome 
an addition to our little staft* of workers, in the Rev. A. H. 
Bestall, a missionary sent out from England. 



IT was daring our second year in Burma that we opened two 
new mission stations, one at Kyaukse, and the other at 
Pakokku. Kyaukse is a town twenty-nine miles south of Man- 
dalay, on the new line of railway, and the centre of the most 
fertile and best irrigated district in Upper Burma. Our work 
in Kyaukse has, from the first, been in charge of one of our 
Singhalese preachers, and its record, up to the present, has been 
chiefly of preliminary work. 

Pakokku is a town of some size and commercial importance, 
as a river port and place of trade. It is situated at the junction 
of the Chindwin river with the Irrawaddy, and is likely to rise 
in importance, as the country behind it becomes more settled, 
and increases its productions, and as the trade on the Chindwin 
is developed. The Pakokku district was, during the earlier years 
of British rule, the scene of much disturbance, but this did not 
prevent us from taking the opportunity, afforded by the develop- 
ment of Pakokku, to establish our mission there. Mi*. Bestall 
commenced the work there in the latter part of 1888. As the 
circumstances at Pakokku illustrate one or two points in mission 
work, I may with advantage relate them. 

On his arrival at Pakokku Mr. Bestall was waited upon by 
the elders of the town, who were also members of the municipality, 
and men of influence, and he was politely informed that Pakokku 
did not want Christianity, and it would be better if he would 
not preach it amongst them. Here was a damper for the new 




missionary; they were determined, it seemed, not even to give 
him a hearing. He received them with good humour, and assured 
them that he wovild not teach them anything but what was for 
their good. He took a bamboo house to live and carry on his 
work in. It was not deserving of any better name than a hut ; 
but for about a year he lived there, preached there, taught school 
there, and built up a singularly powerful influence, especially 
considering the disposition with which the people first greeted 
him. He commenced a school. At first the children who came 
to the mission school did so under difficulties, having to encounter 
the maledictions of the monks, and to go in face of the cheerful 
prospect, held out to them, of descending, in the next birth, to the 
condition of vermin, if they persisted in receiving the instructions 
of the missionary. 

But the superior quality of the instruction given, and a cheerful, 
friendly manner towards all, soon disarmed this ill-will and 
obstruction ; the school prospered, and the meetings were well 
attended. There was another Anglo-vernacular school of the 
same grade as ours in the town, which, being supported out of 
municipal funds, could afford to take boys at half the fees we 
charged, and it had all the weight of oflicial and influential 
support at its back. But the better work done in the mission 
school told here also, and it was not long before we held the field 
without a rival. As early as the second year at Pakokku, all 
this difficulty and opposition had melted away. The Keport of 
the Mission for 1890 staets, as regards Pakokku: — ■ 

"This year has witnessed three baptisms from Buddhism. In 
the case of each, long research and definite decision preceded the 
Christian rite. The ages of the three were thirty-four, twenty 
and seventeen. The young man aged twenty on being asked, 
' Are you ready to confess Christ before men ? ' replied in his 
usual serious manner : ' I know that the Buddhist religion is 
without a Saviour, and that Jesus Christ saves from sin.' This 
youth for two years had been a seeker after Christ, and by his 
earnest, thoughtful course of conduct had often impressed us. 
The day school has greatly increased during the year, and in 
April the municipality voluntarily closed its school in our favour , 



and entrusted the education of the scholars to our care, giving 
us a substantial grant towards the working expenses of the school. 
This action has been specially encouraging to us, for on our open- 
ing the Mission on this station, influential members of the muni- 
cipality met us, and seriously asked us to relinquish our purpose. 


of endeavouring to plant the Christian faith in the midst of the 
Buddhism which they loved so well. The sons of most of these 
members are now with confidence committed to our trust, and 
this in the face of the fact that the best hour of the day's work is 
regularly devoted to teaching the Scriptures. The tone of the 
school is good, the attendance at our two Sunday Burmese 
services encouraging. The pupil teacher has been baptised, and 



there is a work going on in the hearts of some of the boys, which 
gives us great hope of their salvation. The number on the roll 
is fifty. The results of the December Government Examinations 
are most satisfactory. Out of twelve presented from our school 
ten passed. Out of three Scholarships gained by the whole of 
Upper Burma two fell to us, while one boy took the first prize 
for the pro^dnce in English." 

This report shows what hard work can do in the face of dis- 
couraging circumstances, and it is also a very clear illustration of 
the way in which Christian educational work, when wisely con- 
ducted, is a valuable assistance to mission work. 

So successful and promising a work must needs have permanent 
mission premises in which to carry it on. Simultaneously with 
this educational and evangelistic w^ork, our pioneer missionary 
there had also to undertake the worry of purchasing land, and 
building a school-chapel, similar to the one at Mandalay. As a 
mission site, he purchased over four acres of land in a most 
eligible, central and healthy situation, and at the same price as 
we paid in Mandalay. It was so cheap that, before long, Mr. 
Bestall was offered four times what he gave for it. The work 
of building there was peculiarly slow and trying, owing to the 
stupidity of the Burman workmen ; but at length the school- 
chapel was finished, and our work in Pakokku assumed definite 

The purchase of the site for the school-chapel, and the erection 
of the building at Mandalay, furnished an experience sufficiently 
trying to my patience, and consumed a great deal of valuable 
time, and I could not but wish I had some native brethren, to 
share the burden of these tedious details. Time is no object to 
the Oriental, and in dtaling with him you have to be prepared 
to see much precious time wasted. Having chosen the site that 
seemed on the whole best, the next thing was to purchase it. It 
was a square piece of land, about an acre and a half in extent, 
bounded on two sides by the public streets, and on these two sides 
there were about twenty-five bamboo houses, each in a little plot 
of ground, all belonging to different owners, besides six or seven 
more houses inside the square. In the Burmese times no deeds were 



used ; everything went by word of mouth ; indeed there hardly 
could be said to be any property in land, as everything belonged 
to the king. It was therefore, after the annexation, a matter of 
no little delicacy and risk to buy land, as the evidence of owner 
ship, in the absence of deeds, was most precarious. The danger 
was that the buyer, in the absence of any local knowledge, should 
buy from some one who could not prove his title, and afterwards 
should have to purchase it over again from the real owner. 
A great deal of property changed hands at that time in Mandalay, 
and this mishap occurred in some cases. In the case of the 
Mission, although in our three stations we had to purchase from 
thirty or forty different owners, we managed in every case to 
make one payment serve. 

I also found that there were amongst the dwellers on the site 
of the school-chapel, three different kinds of tenure, and we had 
to be careful not to purchase what the holder had no power to 
sell. Some six or seven people were merely squatters, and had 
put up their bamboo houses there without any right or title to 
the land. The greater number held the land on what is known 
in Mandalay as the Ahmudan tenure. They were the soldiers, 
if we might call them such, or retainers of the king, and held 
only a temporary or conditional interest in the land, by virtue of 
military service. One only, out of the whole number, could be 
regarded as the freehold possessor. We had to pay accordingly 
to each. It was a tedious business finding out all this. Some of 
the cases were troublesome to settle. One in particular was in 
dispute between a certain widow, and a man who is a leper, a 
relative of hers, for some time both claiming the ownership. At 
length we reached the end of the negotiations, the last of the 
bamboo houses was taken down and removed, and we were free to 
begin with the building. 

I have mentioned these matters to show the variety of the 
business details that enter into pioneer mission work, and how 
many things the missionary has to take up his time. When it 
came to building the school-chapel, it proved a very lengthy and 
wearisome affair, on account of the idleness and dilatory habits 
of the Eurman mason who had undertaken the contract. As 



the work proceeded he became more clamorous for advances of 
money, and less inclined to do any work. Thrice the building 
came to a perfect standstill ; he declared he would not work 
without money in hand ; twice I managed to get him to start 
again, wishing him to complete the contract if possible. But 
finding, at length, that he never meant to finish it, I had to let 
him go, and employ a native of India to do the rest of the work, 
losing something, of course, by the change of contract. With all 
my love for the Burmans, and a sincere desire to befriend them, 
I almost resolved never to employ a Burman mason again. This 
lack of steadiness, reliableness, and patient continuance, is a defect 
in the national character. They allow most of the prosperity to 
slip past them, in this way, into the hands of Chinamen and 
natives of India. 

At length, however, the building was finished, a neat, substan- 
tial, well-ventilated school-chapel, sixty feet by thirty-six, with a 
neat portico in front, and two stories high. This building was no 
sooner finished than we began to find the great advantage of it in 
our work. It foims an excellent centre, both for educational and 
evangelistic work, and is put to constant use. On a Sunday Ave 
commence with a soldiers' parade service at seven in the morning, 
from eight to nine the Tamil service, and from nine to ten the 
Burmese, three services in three languages in the morning. At five 
in the afternoon we have an out-door service in Burmese near the 
chapel, and at six o'clock the English service, at which all classes 
of English-speaking people, both military and civilian, attend. 
Day by day we have school tliere, and one evening a week a 
Bible-class in English, and another evening a magic-lantern 
exhibition, with Scripture slides only, for the purpose of preaching 
the Gospel to the Burmans. We have found the latter an 
exce 'dingly useful method of preaching the Gospel in Burma. 
The Burmans have a good appreciation of pictures, and we have 
found no difiiculty in crowding the chapel, week after week, in 
this way. By this means great numbers of the peoj)le have been 
able, through the eye, as well as through the ear, to gather some 
definite information about the life and teachings of our Saviour 
and the great cardinal truths of the Gospel. 




The purchase of the mission land at Kyaukse was another 
opportunity of getting an insight into Burmese ways. It was 
a well-situated plot of land that we chose for the mission 
premises, about an acre in extent, and was the property of the 
old Myo-woon or governor of the town, an ancient-looking man, 
decrepit and almost blind, but with wits as sharp as needles, and 
very proud and diflicult to manage. He wanted to sell. I offered 
a price for the land that was fair and reasonable. After trying, 
of course, all he could to get more, he finally agreed to sell it for 
the price I offered. When all was settled I went over to Kyaukse 
by train with the money, but there was some hitch, and I had to 
come back again without settling it. A second time I went, and 
this time all was in readiness. I thought we might finish the 
matter in half an hour, and take the next train home again. 
Nothing of the sort. So many frivolous points of difficulty were 
raised, even after all the talk there had been before, that it took 
three or four hours to finish it. 

First there was the phraseology of the deed to haggle over, 
though that was quite unnecessary. Then the conditions of sale, 
although everything was as clear as it could well be. The last 
rallying point of the retreating foe was in the matter of the fence, 
and here it seemed as if the business would really come to a 

If he sold the land, he must, at any rate, be allowed to remove 
the fence all round the property. 

To this I replied that, in the whole course of my expeiience, 
I had never heard of such a proposal. The fence belonged to the 
land, and served to mark it out, and was most important evidence, 
in case of dispute as to boundaries. If we bought the land how 
could we give him the fence ? 

But the Myo-woon wanted the fence. 

Very well then, we could not buy on those terms. 

The scribe who was proceeding with the writing of the deed, 
ceased when negotiations came to this abrupt termination, and 
we all sat silent, gazing into vacancy for several minutes, the old 
Myo-woon, with his almost sightless eyes, looking particularly 
studious. After giving me plenty of time to relent in his favour, 



and finding no relenting, he abated his terms, and made it only 
the east and west sides that he must have. 

Then the eastern fence only. 

Then let him have the posts of the fence. 
Not a stick. 

On finding me quite resolute in the determination to have fair 
terms, he surrendered the position witli a grace that was really 
wonderful, considering the absurd and audacious attempt he had 
made at over-reaching ; and he showed a truly Burmese ability, to 
smooth over, by neat phrase, and courtly style, what a European 
in his position must have felt as a most awkward dispute. 

Europeans wonder sometimes at the outrageous way Orientals 
have of making claims and requests, which seem to them unfair 
and impudent to the last degree, and they sometimes feel inclined 
to lose patience with them about it. I think their doctrine of 
Fate may account for this propensity. In looking after himself, 
the mind of the Oriental does not run on what is true, just, 
proper, or reasonable, but what will the Fates grant ; and he likes 
to frame his request or demand on the off-chance that your charity, 
or necessity, or complaisance, or ignorance may induce you. to 
yield to him. Thus, supposing six annas to be reasonable, if he 
asks for six annas, and gets it, he may, on that ground, see cause 
to upbraid himself for neglect of his own interests, in not trying 
to get twelve. If, however, he gets less than he asks for, or 
nothing at all, he can, with the aid of the doctrine of Fate, take 
it with equanimity, for he has, at any rate, given the Fates a, 
fair chance, and got as much as it was destined for him to get. 

It was at an early period of our work in Burma that we felt it 
very desirable to take steps towards the training of mission 
workers from amongst the people. Our schools will want 
teachers, and we shall need to multiply these agencies greatly 
before our influence is widely felt. We need catechists to instruct 
the people in the Christian religion, and as our native churches 
spring up and grow, we shall need native pastors to minister to 
them. If we had five hundred such workers, we could easily find 



work for them. But where are these workers ? You look around 
for them in vain. They do not exist. They will not rise up of 
themselves ; we must grow them ; we must take them as they 
are, in the rough, and train them. Heathenism cannot produce 
persons ready to our hands, with the character, the knowledge, 
and the experience requisite for Christian work. 

In commencing this department of his work, the pioneer 
missionary must be content to begin at the very beginning. He 
cannot afford to hold his hands in this matter, and wait for 
better, or the best, material. Time is too precious for unneces- 
sary waiting. Every year is valuable, and it ought to be his 
aim to shorten the initial years of paucity of workers, as much 
as possible, by seeking to j^rovide them early. He had better 
commence with such material as he can find, and not be dis- 
heartened, however many failures and disappointments there may 
be. A wise missionary will take care to have always about him 
a number of young disciples, whom he is training or trying to 
train, and into whom he is endeavouring to infuse as much as he 
can of himself, and the Christian training of centuries past which 
he embodies, — his knowledge, methods, thoughts and aspirations, 
together with his spirit and example. All the best native 
ministers, catechists and teachers I have known during many 
years, have been men who cherished with gi-atitude the memory 
of their association with some missionary, and his training and 
example. And there is no mission work, earnestly persisted in, 
that is surer of its reward than the labour we spend on our young 
native brethren. 

We commenced this work with a very humble effort in the way 
of a preparatory school, into which we gathered, from time to 
time, those who were desirous of following the studies that would 
fit them for teaching. Our experience illustrates the kind of 
difficulties that may be expected in a work of this kind, and it 
also illustrates that, although at the outset the failures and dis- 
appointments will be more numerous than the successes, yet even 
then all is not lost, and if even only one good teacher or preacher 
be secured out of the first batch, that one will be worth all the 
labour. Afterwards, when things get more into shape, and we 



can make a better selection, we shall be correspondingly better 

We had gathered eight Burman youths together in this pre- 
paratory boarding school on the Mission premises. I had them 
regularly taught by a conscientious and faithful native Christian 
teacher. They attended Divine service regularly, and we took 
pains to give them, in the school, Christian instruction, together 
with the course of secular instruction that seemed adapted for 
them. One day I went into the school and found all ominously 

" Where are the boys 1 " 
" All gone but one." 

*' Gone ? Where ? " The matter was soon explained. The 
newly appointed Sawbwa of Momeit, a semi-independent chief- 
tain, ruling a mountain district a few days' journey north of 
Mandalay, being in need of more followers, some of his men 
got at these boys of ours, and persuaded them that a career of 
prosperity would open up to them, if they elected to follow 
the Sawbwa. These visions of prosperity proved too much of a 
temptation for these lads, so without as much as " good-bye " 
they had taken their departure, in the usual Burmese light- 
hearted way ; and by the time we discovered they were missing, 
they were on their way up the river by steamer, in attendance 
on the new Sawbwa. One of the youths, however, our most 
hopeful one, K. by name, had quite privately made a remark to 
tlie youth who did not go, from which there seemed reason to 
hope that, in spite of his yielding to the temptation to leave, 
there was the root of the matter in him, and some hope that it 
might still result in good. He told this lad that wherever he 
went he meant to preach Christ. That remark was a good sign, 
but our disappointment was great. 

In due time the young adventurers found the wisdom of that 
counsel, " Put not your trust in princes." The Sawbwa never 
made good his promises. No prosperous career opened out to 
them, nothing better than lounging about the dirty village of 
Momeit, which constituted his capital. One by one they left the 
Sawbwa. Most of them I never saw again, but K., the one 



of whom we had most hopes, came back to us, and is with us 
still. Notwithstanding this and other disappointments, we still 
hold on in this enterprise of training workers, and mean to do 
so. K. was the first convert I baptised in Burma, and we 
have good hopes that he will prove a useful preacher. He cer- 
tainly has talents in this direction. From the first he has shown 
more than ordinary intelligence and aptitude for study, and a 
marked love for the Word of God. Finding in him this aptitude, 
I commenced to give him, in Burmese, systematic daily instruc- 
tion in Bible studies and theology. I was surprised to find the 
progress he had already made, and his extreme aptitude for 
understanding and imparting it. With intelligence and abilities 
for study, and with the taste for it, and a good natural utterance, 
we have great hopes of K. ; but knowing what we do of the 
immoralities so common in Burman society, and the temptations 
to which young men are subject, we have to tremble, and to 
exercise watchful care, and to pray that the grace of God in him 
may prevail. The late C. H. Spurgeon has well said, " To build 
cathedrals is a little work compared with building up preachers." 

A communication recently to hand, from my friend and col- 
league Mr. Bestall, gives gratifying news of the young men at 
present in this training school, and gives us good ground to hope 
that this work is not in vain. Describing the young men he 
says : — 

" K. first heard of Christ in 1888. It would be difiicult to 
find a more fluent speaker or more earnest student. He preaches 
well and thoughtfully, and we hope to have more to report of 
him in years to come. 

" G. N. is with him. He is an ex-Buddhist monk. He left 
Buddhism, and for some months has been diligently studying the 
Scriptures. He preaches in a very different style from K. He 
is quite familiar with the Buddhist prayers in Pali, and usually 
prefaces his remarks by a short recital. Having gained the ear 
of all, he continues, ' I don't pray like that now. Why 1 ' and 
then he begins his address. 

" T. follows. He has been studying for two years, and is 
developing into an intelligent believer in the Gospel. 



" S. is training for the work of a Christian teacher, and always 
accompanies the preachers to the out-door services. 

" Lastly comes N., a quiet, earnest young man, who of his own 
accord has left a comfortable home to be trained in the Scrip- 

With regard to our general work, we have had converts each 
year after the first. There is no sign as yet of any gi'eat ingather- 
ing, but on each station steady, plodding work has brought its 
reward. Our earnest endeavour has been to commence on sound 
principles, making ample use of the accumulated experiences of 
many past years, and to build the foundations strongly and 
deeply, rather than to aim at mere rapidity, which, in Burma, 
would be apt to end in disappointment. We have made per- 
ceptible progress from year to year in the hold we have on the 
people, the language and the work generally. 

One of our most important enterprises is a Boarding School 
and Training Institution for girls. We aim not only at the 
conversion of individuals, but also to constitute Christian homes 
in Burma, and for that purpose we must have women converted 
as well as men, and as many of them as of men. If special 
efforts are not directed to the conversion of women in these 
Eastern lands, there is great danger of the work being one-sided. 
The demand for the education of boys is much gi-eater than for 
the girls, consequently many more boys than girls are placed for 
training under our care, and the natural consequence is that we 
are apt to have male converts in excess of female. In the 
earlier days of mission work in the East it was often so, and this 
in some cases perceptibly retarded the progress of the work. In 
some of the harder mission fields, the progress would have been 
much greater if, from the very first, adequate attention could have 
been given to women. Surely we ought to profit by that experi- 
ence in every new mission field taken up now. 

What happens when the converts amongst the yoimg men are 
considoi-ably more numerous than amongst the girls ? The time 
comes for the young men to marry, and they marry heathen 
wives, because it is unavoidable. Generally speaking, if a woman 
is a heathen when she marries, she remains so to the end of the 




chapter. There were in the earlier days, thirty or forty years 
ago, many instances of this in Ceylon, the results of which are 
seen to this day, and what we see is admonitory. I remember 
one, a typical case, of an elderly man, a Christian teacher, whom 
I knew intimately. He had a heathen wife. " There were none 
of these Girls' Boarding Schools when I was young, to train our 
Tamil girls," he would say, " and so I married a heathen," and a 
great trouble it was to him. She was agreeable enough to live 
with, but totally illiterate, and a rigid Hindu. Everything was 
done that could be done for her, but she was, as usual, impervious 
to all influences, and remained in the Hindu faith till the day of 
her death. It was very seldom that a woman accepted Chris- 
tianity after she was married, whereas a few months under 
Christian instruction before almost always inclined them firmly 
to the Christian faith. In Jaflfna, where we have our largest 
Girls' Institution in that mission, where there are always some 
eighty or ninety girls, the Christian influence is so strong, and the 
minds of the young are so impressible, that they practically all 
embrace Christianity within a few weeks of their entrance. There 
are never more than a few new comers unbaptised, who are only 
waiting that they may learn a little more, or to obtain the con- 
sent of their friends and guardians ; and it is the same with all 
the institutions of the kind in our own, and the neighbouring 
missions. If missionary experience has proved anything in the 
East, it has proved that no work is more abiding or more remu- 
nerative than work done for girls, from ten to fifteen years of 

Another case in Ceylon was that of a native gentleman, a 
Christian of good standing and respectable position. He married 
a heathen wife, because Christian wives were not then to be found. 
I never knew him, he died before my time, but I knew his family. 
They are now grown up and in middle life. Under the mother's 
influence they were brought up as heathens, although the father 
was a Christian, and when the boys went to school, they had to 
be dealt with as other heathen lads. Two of them were happily 
converted and baptised into the Christian faith, after they were 
grown up, but the rest of the family are all rigid heathens to this 



day, and their children also. Experience in such cases ampl)^ 
proves that only when the wife and mother is a Christian before 
marriage, can the family be relied on as a Christian family. If 
not, you may expect to have all the work to do over again in the 
next generation. This is woman's nature all the world over — 

"If she will, she will, you may depend on it; 
But if she won't, she won't, and there's an end of it." 

The family depends more on the mother than on any one else for 
its religious tone. 

Besides that, we require, in Burma, female teachers for the 
girls' schools that we need to establish everywhere, in the towns 
and villages of the country, and we need Biblewomen to go from 
house to house teaching the Word of God. The preachers and 
teachers whom we are seeking to train will need Christian wives. 
Where are all these Christian girls? They are not in existence. 
They have to be created. There is nothing for it but to open 
these Girls' Institutions, and commence with such material as 
comes to hand. The method found, in all the missions in the 
East, to be best adapted to secure the conversion and training of 
native girls and young women, is a boarding school in connection 
with each principal station where English missionaries reside, in 
close proximity to the mission house, and under the care of the 
missionary's wife or some other English lady, where regular 
secular and religious instruction may be given, without the con- 
tinual drawback of irregular attendance, which is found in day 
schools for girls. We make no attempt to denationalise them, or 
to teach them expensive English habits. They live in the same 
frugal way as they did at home, and have their food cooked and 
served up exactly in the same style, squatting like tailors on the 
floor, and eating their rice with their fingers, without the inter- 
vention of knife and fork, just as they have always done. They 
follow their own fashion in dress, which has this great advantage 
over European fashions, that it never changes a hair's breadth ; 
and they spread a mat on the floor to sleep at night. Daily 
there is Christian instruction, and family prayers, and they are 
taken to Divine service on Sundays. 



Under these conditions it is never long before a girl comes 
asking for baptism. This result, provided these means are 
adopted, is just as sure as the hopes of a woman's conversion 
without them are precarious, in a heathen land. Up to the 
present our Girls' Institution is only in its infancy, and we are 
only able to furnish one example to show what I mean ; but as 
this is the only case where the circumstances have rendered it 
possible to test these methods in Burma, and it is a success, I 
may briefly give the facts. We could find hundreds of examples 
in Ceylon, 

Some two and a half years ago Colonel Cooke, then the Deputy 
Commissioner of Mandalay, informed me one day that he had 
received, and forwarded to the provincial government, a petition 
from the relatives of a certain Burmese princess in Mandalay, 
asking for some charitable allowance for her support. Though 
quite destitute, she was the niece of King Theebaw, her father 
being one of the half-brothers of the king, and he was one of 
those unfortunate princes put to death in the two dreadful 
massacres that disgraced the reign of the last of the Burmese 
kings. The Deputy Commissioner recommended the case to the 
favourable notice of Government, on condition that the girl, then 
about fifteen years of age, should be placed in the Mission board- 
ing school, under the eye of the missionary's wife. This is the 
usual condition in such cases; and it was in order to secure 
the proper charge of the girl, and a suitable education for 
her, and to ensure that the twenty rupees monthly, allowed 
by Government, are really spent on her, and not on somebody 

She came, and has remained in the school ever since, going on 
with her education, and receiving a Christian training, though 
no pressure whatever has at any time been used to induce her 
to become a Christian, nothing beyond what we give to all the 
children, and all the members of the public congregation. There 
is indeed no necessity for any urging with young people, when 
the Gospel has a fair chance. They themselves desire it. At a 
Sabbath morning service, early in the present year, when the 
invitation was given by the preacher to those who had been 



prepared for Christian baptism, to come forward for that rite, 
she was the first to leave her seat, and come quietly forward, and 
kneel down with the rest, quite unexpectedly to the preacher, 
who was not aware that such was her intention. Eleven new 
converts were received in all that Sunday and the previous 

The work of the Mission during those earliest years had to be 
done amidst many drawbacks, but these I need not do more than 
mention, as I have already said that I do not believe in calling 
attention to the personal difficulties of the missionary, but 
rather to his work. 

In addition to the feeling of unrest, and the danger of tumult 
throughout the country, and especially in Mandalay, the focus 
of all political influences, there was always the climate, with its 
enervating heat, to contend with. For two months of the year 
more especially, the dazzling glare and fierce heat of the sun, 
the parching drought, and the hot winds, are very exhausting, 
and I'ender it very desirable for Europeans to take a holiday, 
and get away to the hills, a little time, for change of climate ; 
but no such thing was possible in Upper Burma. There are, it is 
true, mountains up to five and six thousand feet elevation, where 
the climate is delightfully cool, but they are out of reach, for 
want of railways and roads, and no one knows yet where the 
proper health resorts of the future will be. It requires years 
of experience to know which of the mountain districts are free 
from the deadly fever malaria of the jungle, and which are not ; 
consequently there was no chance of a change of climate. 

Besides this, we cannot undertake pioneer work in a new 
country, where there has not been the least attempt at sanitary 
arrangements, without serious risk to life and health. The 
other missions have already their roll of the dead and the dis- 
abled in Upper Burma, and it is considerable in proportion to 
the number of the workers. The smallpox epidemic, inevitable 
in a country up to that time without vaccination, attacked two 
of our number, and one of them was a very serious case, but by 
God's preserving mercy they escaped ; and typhoid fever, probably 
the result of an impure water supply, came in its turn, and two 



others of our little company — one of them the Rev. T. W. 
Thomas, a new missionary, who had but just arrived — were 
brought nigh to the gates of death. These, with the ordinary 
diseases of the country, such as fever and dysentery, befell us, but 
a merciful Providence brought us all through, and no one has 
been called away or permanently disabled. 



ONE peculiar and sadly interesting feature of mission work in 
a new country is the duty of seeking the lost. Whenever 
a new country is opened, it not only offers a sphere for steady 
young men seeking one, but it always attracts also many adven- 
turers, wanderers and prodigals from the more settled communities, 
and they come in considerable numbers. The annexation of 
Upper Burma was a case of this kind, and the hope of employ- 
ment brought over persons, some of whom were to be found 
serving in positions very difterent from what they or their 
friends ever expected them to occupy. I remember one day, 
whilst visiting Kyaukse on mission business, meeting casually 
a man of this kind. I heard there was an Englishman lying ill 
in a certain rest-house. I found the man all alone and very ill, 
suffering apparently from cholera, which was then very prevalent. 
He was quite deserted and destitute, unable to attend to himself, 
and in a very neglected condition. The building was the usual 
Burmese zayat, built of teak, without any furniture whatever, 
nothing but the man's mattress and pillow spread on the floor. 
I sent for the Government apothecary, and in the meantime got 
him some chicken broth made, for he had no food, sponged him, 
and made him as comfortable as I could. He told me something 
of his history. He was an Englishman, and had been brought 
up respectably, and was a near relation of a minister of the 
Gospel in England. He was a ne'er-do-weel, and had been in 
many employments in different parts of the world ; at one time 




at sea in a whaling ship, and at that time driving a locomotive 
engine, with ballast trains, on the new Mandalay railway, then 
under construction. His failing, and the cause of all his misery 
and degradation, was diink. The apothecary gave him medicine, 
and he recovered, and seemed veiy grateful to me for the 
attentions I had shown him. He admitted his faults very 
candidly, and we had, before I left the next day, a long and 
serious talk, with prayer. I saw him once afterwards at our 
service on a Sunday evening in Mandalay, and he seemed alto- 
gether brighter and better. Shortly afterwards he left the 
neighbourhood, stating he wished to break off from his bad com- 
panions and start life anew, and I saw him no more. 

Another was a very different case. A Brahmin young man 
was missing from a highly respectable native family in Negapa- 
tam. He was a former pupil in our high school there, and had 
left home in consequence of some dispute with his friends, and 
was supposed to have come to Mandalay, in search of employment. 
I did not hear of any lapse of character or misconduct of any 
kind, but with Brahmins, the mere leaving home and crossing 
the sea amounts to such a breach of caste, and contamination 
with others, as to be worse in their eyes than many a deadly sin, 
and they weep for such a one as over a prodigal. I inquired 
for him in the public offices where he was likely to be found, but 
I could find no trace of him. 

I received from time to time a number of letters from a young 
woman belonging to the Eurasian community in Ceylon, asking 
in gi^eat distress for news of her husband, whom she had not 
seen for seven years. It was a sad story, and the poor woman 
seemed almost to have lost her senses through grief. Differences 
had arisen between her husband and his relatives, after the 
marriage, and he had left home and gone to India, and after- 
wards to Burma, and had given way to drink. I found traces 
of him. The missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 
Bangoon had known him as one of the intemperate characters 
loafing about the town, whom he had often tried to help, and 
raise out of the gutter. At last he had suddenly lost sight of 
him, and could not tell me what had become of him. Through 




the Superintendent of Police in Rangoon I found what appeared 
to be the last trace of this unfortunate man. The police records 
stated that a man, answering to his description, was found drowned 
one morning, in the lake near Rangoon, and he was supposed 
to have wandered there, either whilst helpless in liquor, or with 
the intention of ending his unhappy career. Which it was there 
was no evidence to show. It was never fully proved that this 
was the same man, but as he was nowhere to be found, it seemed 
very probable that it was he, and the poor soul had to content 
herself, as best she could, with this sad and uncertain information. 

A widow of the Eurasian community, whom I had been ac- 
quainted with during my residence in Ceylon, years before, wrote 
to ask if I could hear any tidings of her younger son, who at the 
time I knew him was a schoolboy, but by that time a young 
man. He had left home to seek employment, and had learnt the 
business of a mechanic, but, like too many, had ceased to write 
to his mother, who, of course, in the absence of any knowledge of 
him, feared the worst. What a cruel thing to leave a widowed 
mother in ignorance of his whereabouts ! I made all possible 
inquiries, but with no result. He had not come to Mandalay. 

Another very sad case was that of a young Englishman in 
Mandalay, in Government service, and in a respectable position. 
Disappointed apparently at not getting promotion as rapidly as 
he had hoped, late one night he committed suicide by droM^ning 
himself. Morally he had drifted far away from the teachings 
of home and childhood, iind he had formally renounced the 
Christian religion, declared himself a Buddhist, and had even left 
instructions in his will, that in the event of his death he should be 
interred as a Buddhist. Though no one appears to have suspected 
it before the sad event, it was, after his death, the opinion of 
many who knew him, that his reason must have lost its balance. 
There was evidence of great deliberation in the carrying out 
of the deed. His duties in the public service had occupied 
him until a late hour, and had all been performed in his usual 
careful manner. He had then dismissed his native attendant 
and gone on to a large pool of water, and had taken care to 
make his body sink and ensure his death. I received a letter 



from his mother in England, written after the sad intelligeiice 
reached her, asking for further information, and in great trouble. 
From this letter it appeared that he had, in his youth, been 
well and religiously brought up, but long residence abroad had 
blunted those early impressions. Our countrymen abroad need 
more than all the attention we can give them, and we often 
wish we could do more. But the working hours of the day are 
limited ; many duties press upon us, and the Europeans are 
widely scattered over all the country, and it is impossible to reach 
them all. 

One day I received a letter from a respectable Eurasian gentle- 
man, a Christian man in Calcutta, requesting me to seek his son, 
a young man of twenty-two. He seemed in great trouble about 
him, and stated that his son had " rejected a life provision, with 
every comfort of home and family." This was not the only 
trouble in the family. His elder brother, who had been in Burma 
also, and had prospered in money matters, had fallen a victim to 
drink, and had died by his own act, having, under the influence 
of liquor, thrown himself overboard from a steamer, whilst on 
the way from Rangoon to Calcutta. The father seemed dread- 
fully crushed at the thought of the unfortunate end of the elder 
brother, and the prodigal career of the younger, and wrote to 
ask if I could learn any tidings of him. After some searching, 
I found him in, I think, the filthiest house I ever stepped inside 
of, and consorting with some low Burmans. He was working at 
his trade pretty regularly, and was earning good wages; but 
he was so hemmed in by his bad habits, and bad companions, 
and he seemed to be of such an easy, yielding nature, and so 
infirm of purpose, tliat it seemed very difficult, if not impossible, 
to do anything to help him. As I visited him repeatedly, he 
expressed from time to time a feeble desire to do better ; but he 
admitted to me that the domestic ties he had formed in Mandalay 
prevented his leaving the place, and quitting the place was the 
only chance he could see of getting into a better way of life. It 
was the usual case — a Burmese wife, and yet not a wife. 

And here I must utter a strong protest against those illicit con- 
nections which so many of our countrymen, of almost e^^ery degree, 



form in Burma. It seems to many of them that because the 
marriage bond amongst the Burmans themselves is lax, and more 
or less of the nature of a temporary airangement, and because 
the standard of social morality is low, it gives them the licence 
to make it still lower, and the union still looser, by forming still 
more temporary companionships with Burmese women. In the 
case of the Englishman I say still looser, for there is this difference 
between the Burman and the Englishman — that in the former 
case it is to all intents and purposes a marriage, and is not 
unlikely to prove lifelong, though it may terminate earlier, 
whereas the Englishman would scornfully refuse the title of wife 
for his native companion, or " housekeeper," as he is pleased some- 
times to call her, and he never intends the union to be anything 
but temporary. It is vain therefore to defend this practice from 
the standpoint of Burmese custom. It is mere concubinage, and 
in the name of the Christian religion, to which they nominally 
belong, I protest that no man has the right to inflict such a 
degrading position upon the mother of his children. 

As regards the children of such unions, the result is still more 
cruel. They iSnd themselves in a most invidious position. Of 
mixed descent, they belong neither to the English nor the 
Burmese race, and they suffer serious disadvantages accordingly. 
Moreover, the English are never permanently resident in Bui-ma, 
and when the father is tired of the girl, his companion, or when 
his work, or his official duty, calls him to leave and go to a distant 
station, or when he goes " home " on furlough, or retires alto- 
gether from Burma, or when he marries an English wife in 
proper legal form, it ends in his paying off the mother and the 
children, if indeed he prove sufficiently honourable to do that. 
If she takes all this with a light heart, as she probably may, 
Burman-like, that does not lessen the guilt and the cruelty 
involved in such base desertion of his own helpless offspring. 
That such children are very often left in this way by their 
fathers, and that they become a charge on missionary bodies for 
their education, out of sheer pity for their English descent, and 
that these individuals often go eventually to swell the community 
of " Poor Whites," a class very difficult to provide for — all these 



are facts too well known in Burma, and in India, to be disputed. 
These facts should make the young Englishman pause before he 
follows this evil but prevalent example, surrenders himself to 
his appetites, and foolishly surrounds himself with ties which are 
degrading and unworthy, and which he cannot fairly justify or 
defend, and which he would never think of acknowledging to his 
mother and sisters " at home." These considerations ought to 
make him consider whether he had not better, by early frugality, 
save his funds, so that he may the sooner be in a position to woo 
and provide for a wife of his own nation and people, who can 
be a true companion for him. This evil is one of considerable 
dimensions in Burma, and holding up social evils to the light of 
day is one means of seeking their removal. 

One day I received a letter from a godly man in Ireland, who 
wrote asking me to go and see his son, a sergeant in the regiment 
then stationed in Mandalay. He was under an assumed name, a 
thing not unusual in the army. His father had not heard from 
him for ten years, but had just received a letter. It was a sad 
case — ^^the old story — formerly in a very good position in the 
Excise in Ireland; drink his ruin. He lost his position, and 
finding himself at length in distress, enlisted. Being well educated 
he was soon promoted, but again and again got into trouble 
through drinking. This went on for years, until at last by sheer 
desperate effort he managed to pull himself together, feeling sure 
that if he went on much longer at the rate he was going, he 
would soon be in his grave. He admitted to me that though 
he had not, when I saw him, tasted liquor for over a year, the 
craving that came upon him sometimes was almost insupportable. 
I urged him to seek the converting grace of God, and get Divine 
help, which alone could keep straight one in his dangerous 
position, but he could not see it. I sat with him over an hour 
that afternoon, and he wept freely ; we wept together as we 
talked about his home, his father, and the days of childhood and 
innocence, and as he recounted to me the story of his life. 
Soldiers and sailors are amongst the most candid and approach- 
able of men with the chaplain, and I never find the least difiiculty 
in getting at their hearts. But there was a peculiar difiiculty in 



his case in another respect. He believed in his father, and there 
was much tenderness in his mind with regard to sacred things, 
but he seemed to be utterly sceptical as to Divine grace ever 
reaching him ; and it was only with the utmost difficulty that I 
could get him to kneel in prayer. There seemed to be some 
hindrance that I could not remove. He came by invitation to 
my house, and spent an evening with us, but with a like result, 
and he steadily refrained from attending any of our services. 
Very shortly after I became acquainted with him, his regiment 
left for England, and I saw him no more. Let us hope that the 
scenes of home life once more, and other kindred influences, led 
to the completion of that work of grace and reformation, the 
beginning of which was evidenced by his long abstinence from 
liquor, his writing once more to his father, and the evident feeling 
he manifested when conversing about home and sacred things. 

Where the habit of drinking has become confirmed it is often 
very difficult to effect a radical cure ; consequently looking after 
such cases as I am describing, where the drink appetite and other 
gross sins have complicated the situation, is never so hopeful and 
encouraging. Nevertheless we have no reason to lose hope of 
any ; and cases occur sometimes of the complete reformation of 
persons who have sunk very low indeed, and long seemed hopeless. 
In this connection I should like to acknowledge the very satis- 
factory results that have attended the universal establishment, 
throughout the British Army in our Indian Empire, of that 
society known as the Army Temperance Association. This 
society owes its origin to the efforts of a Baptist missionary in 
India, the Rev. Gelson Gregson, who started the movement some 
few years ago. Its working is similar to other temperance organi- 
sations, with the exception that it is purposely and specially 
adapted to the idiosyncrasies and the peculiar circumstances of 
Thomas Atkins in a tropical climate, far away from " home," and 
with much spare time on his hands. The great reason why it 
flourishes is that it really offers counter attractions, such as a 
soldier can appreciate, to the canteen as a place of resort, with 
its liilarity and good fellowship, and without any temptation to 



Chief among these attractions is a room set apart for the 'purpose, 
where the members of the Army Temperance Association can 
resort when off duty ; a small concession, one would have thought, 
that might long ago have been less grudgingly and more fre- 
quently made to temperance, but really a great matter to the 
soldier. This, with the necessary refreshment bar for the sale of 
food, tea and cooling drinks, with a few games to occupy their 
spare time, and a supply of newspapers and books, forms a basis. 
The organisation itself is fitted to meet the case of soldiers. A 
small monthly fee is paid for membership ; they elect their own 
officials from amongst themselves, there is a periodical published 
by the Secretary at headquarters as the organ of the association, 
there is a bestowal of medals and decorations, in tangible recog- 
nition of abstinence on the part of members, for given lengths of 
time, and the surplus funds are expended in little entertainments 
such as they like. It is a matter of much gratification to us in 
the Burma mission, that the chaplain selected by the military 
authorities at present, to fill the post of Secretary of the Army 
Temperance Association, is our former comrade and colleague, 
the Rev. J. H. Bateson, who in 1887-8 was with us as Wesleyan 
Chaplain to the Upper Burma Field Force, and we heartily wish 
him success in the work for which he is so well fitted. 

It is a matter of great thankfulness that the Army Temperance 
Association is not only fully recognised in our Indian army, but 
that it is a standing order that a branch of it has to be main- 
tained in every regiment and battery. Joining is optional on the 
part of the men. This wise course has been amply justified by 
the results. Sixteen thousand out of a total of nearly seventy 
thousand men are enrolled. It is now found that in proportion 
as the Army Temperance Association flourishes, both crime and 
sickness in the army diminish ; and so far from soldiers needing 
liquor to sustain them, they are found far better without it, both 
in cantonments and in the field. In fact, it is calculated that 
every five thousand men in the association means a battalion of 
men less in prison and in hospital, and fit for duty. The wonder 
is not that such should be found to be the case, but that it should 
have taken so many years to find it out. In the mission we took 



onr stand, of course, on the side of total abstinence, and embraced 
every opportunity of advocating this movement, in military and 
civil life, both amongst men and amongst women. 

We met from time to time with cases of genuine conversion that 
gave us great joy. Our Sunday evening English service was 
always followed by an after meeting for prayer and exhortation, 
and made an opportunity, for any who wished to lead a new life, 
to give their hearts to the Saviour. Again and again it was our 
delight to guide those who were seeking to do so, at first in 
Buddhist monasteries, and pagodas, and anywhere that we could 
find for the meetings, often with images of Gautama, and other 
accessories of Buddhist worship around, and later on in our own 
mission school-chapel. I remember one Sunday evening in par- 
ticular, the Word came home to many hearts, and that evening, 
and in the course of the week, I had the privilege of close con- 
versation with several, and some of our Christian members spoke 
with others who had been awakened by the infiuence of the Spirit. 
Amongst the rest I had a request, through a soldier, to the effect 
that Cor[)oral S. would like to talk with me. I went and met 
liim, and conversed for half an hour in the barrack yard answer- 
ing his question, " What must I do to be saved ? " The circum- 
stances of his awakening were peculiar. A certain passage of 
Scripture had followed him wherever he had gone. The last 
Sunday, just before sailing for India, his mother had requested 
him to go with her to the service, and that had been the text. 
At Malta he had heard another sermon from the same text. 
The first time he attended service after he landed in India it had 
been the same. And a fourth time had he heard it preached 
fiom at Shwebo in Upper Burma. This had naturally produced 
a considerable impression on his mind, which the sermon of the 
previous Sunday evening had developed into decision to serve the 
Lord. With a little instruction and prayer he was soon hope- 
fully converted, and happy in the Lord. 

It is sometimes urged, as an objection against earnest efibrts 
for the conversion of sinnei-s, that the results attending such 
efforts are not always abiding ; but surely no objection could be 
more illogical or more ungenei-ous. If it applies at all, it applies 



with equal force against any and every attempt to save men. It 
may just as well be alleged against the most formal and per- 
functory of ministrations as against the more direct and strenuous 
efforts to pluck men out of the fire. The proper logical outcome 
of that objection is, " Do nothing at all." We might just as well 
do nothing as make the Gospel a mere " light to sink by." A 
chaplain amongst soldiers must often feel a painful sense of 
disappointment at some results of his work, which are evanescent. 
The life of the barrack-room necessarily produces, especially in 
India, such an artificial condition of things, and involves such a 
departure from the Divine ordinance, which is the family, that it 
must needs bring with it special trials and stress of temptation 
to any of the dwellers there who desire to lead a godly life. 
Hence every chaplain has his disappointments over those who 
grow weary in well-doing. And yet, on the other hand, such is 
the principle of compensation running through the kingdom of 
grace, that although barrack-room discipline is bad for the 
weak Christian, it strengthens the man of determination, and 
I question whether there are to be found anywhere triumphs 
of saving grace more marvellous than we find in the army, 
or more touching examples of humble, sincere and consistent 

We had in the battery of Royal Artillery stationed in 
Mandalay a man whose career had been a peculiarly rough one, 
but who is now a very bright Christian. He had led a wild life. 
He was a blacksmith by trade, and, from his youth up, had been 
in the habit of spending all he possibly could in beer, and, as is 
usually the case, the beer often made a mere brute and vagabond 
of him. He first enlisted in a cavalry regiment, from which, 
after being often in trouble, he deserted. For a time he got 
work, but he still betook himself to the beer, and the beer 
made him talk, and let out his former connection with the army, 
so that he frequently had to disappear hurriedly, lest he should 
be arrested as a deserter. Finding himself in want, he enlisted 
again, this time in the Royal Engineers. From this corps he 
received his discharge in consequence of an illness. Recovering, 
and entering once more on a course of dissipation, he enlisted a 



thii'd time, in the Royal Artillery. The Jubilee year gave him 
the opportunity to confess his former desertion, and to secure his 
share in the general pardon, extended by the Queen to all such 
cases that year; and it was not long before the King of kings 
granted him His pardon also. Whilst stationed at Woolwich, he 
happened one evening, when feeling extremely dejected, to enter 
the Soldiers' Home. The Wesleyan chaplain met him there, 
spoke to him kindly, and invited him to a meeting. He went. 
It was a fellowship meeting. He heard a number of his comrades 
speak, but so dark was his mind in reference to religion, that he 
could not understand them in the least. However, he gathered 
that they possessed some source of comfort and joy within, of 
which he knew nothing. He followed it up, became truly con- 
verted, and whilst with us in Mandalay lived a most exemplary 
life, and exerted a very gracious influence amongst his comrades. 
Religion had quickened, as it often does, that once darkened 
and besotted nature ; and I have seldom met with a better 
example of the transforming, elevating power of the Gospel, the 
power to keep and sanctify, as well as save. 

Another very satisfactory instance of true conversion, mainly 
owing to impressions produced at the parade services, several 
Sunday mornings in succession, was that of a pay-sergeant in the 
regiment then stationed in Mandalay, a married man living with 
his wife and family in the married quarters, a steady, quiet 
Scotchman, always well disposed, and of strictly moral life. 
Parade services are not always thought to be very good oppor- 
tunities for getting at the hearts of soldiers, seeing that they are 
marched there by compulsion, not always in the best mood, and 
with their arms and accoutrements (in India), which is a different 
thing from going to a vokintary service off parade. But does not 
this fact challenge, as it were, the chaplain to give them of his 
brightest and best 1 It must, before all, be very short, or he will 
ruin everything, and send them away worse than they came ; 
something short, lively and heart-stirring, full of Christ, full of 
apt illustration, and full of sympathy with souls, so that he may 
capture these soldier lads in spite of themselves. Well, it was at 
these parade services that Sergeant C. felt his mind awakened 



to new views of truth and duty and Christian privilege. Being 
aroused about the matter he attended also the evening services, 
and the devotional meetings on the week-nights, and soon got the 
light he requii-ed, and found himself a new man in Christ Jesus. 
Well conducted and steady as he had been before, his conversion 
nevertheless made a great difference to him, giving clearness and 
brightness to his religious character, and kindling in him a new 
zeal for the conversion of others. 

We found drink to be a fearful curse, not only amongst the 
English residents, but amongst the natives also. I had a servant, 
a native of India. He was a great gambler, and very lazy, 
dishonest and troublesome altogether. Bad as he was, we bore 
with him over two years, fearing that if we discharged him we 
might have to put up with somebody worse. Just before we left 
Burma we dismissed him, because he had sent away his wife and 
taken up with another. Since coming to England, I learn that 
this man, in a fit of drunkenness, murdered this woman, with 
circumstances of unusual atrocity, and that he had to suffer the 
extreme penalty of the law. 

But this drink monster is no respecter of persons, and makes 
no distinction of race, sweeping down all before it without any 
discrimination. An English soldier in Mandalay, who had been 
an abstainer for a considerable period, suddenly took to liquor 
again one day, and got drunk. That evening he took out his 
rifle, put in a cartridge, walked down out of the bungalow, and 
took the direction that the seven devils within him pointed out. 
This happened to be towards the sergeants' mess, a separate 
building a stone's-throw away. That evening, a party of 
sergeants were enjoying a festive gathering, in honour of the 
seventeenth anniversary of the enlistment of one of their number. 
His health had just been proposed, and he stood up to reply, 
when at that very moment the poor ciazed drunkard outside 
fired, and shot the sergeant dead. There had been no provo- 
cation, and no reason could be assigned for the rash act. It was 
merely " the drink." In the distant future, when the temperance 
reform shall have won its way, and the customs of English 
society shall have undergone a great change, people will greatly 



wonder that their forefathers took so long to discover that liquor 
was their enemy, and not their friend. 

Another example, and 1 bring these reminiscences to a close. 
It is the case of a soldier, who formerly belonged to a cavalry 
regiment, stationed at the time I speak of at one of the principal 
military stations in the south of India. He had plunged into 
drinking and vice, until at last he was told by the doctor that he 
had gone as far as his constitution would allow him, and that if 
he went any further it would be the end of him. This weighed 
upon his mind, and a deep sense of his sinfulness and a desire for 
better things resulted. He felt he needed Divine help, and he 
thought he had better begin again to pray, a thing he had long 
ceased to do. But how to begin in a barrack-room, where many 
pairs of eyes would see him, and misunderstand, and ridicule him ? 
Well, he would wait until all was quiet, and then kneel down by 
his cot and pray. He waited, but as he was musing the fire 
kindled, and when he did begin to pray, so urgent was his plead- 
ing with God for mercy, that his voice rang through the barrack- 
room, and all his comrades were aroused by it. They thought 
he was mad. He was removed to the guard-room, and put under 
restraint. There, in the quietude of that solitary place, he found 
pardon, and his soul was filled with peace. Next day the medical 
officer saw him ; he could not quite make out the case, but 
adopted the safe course of keeping him still under restraint. He 
told the doctor what it was that had caused the trouble of his 
mind, and how he had gained deliverance, adding that if they 
had said he was mad before, it would have been quite true, but 
that now he had come to his right mind. This explanation only 
induced the man of science dubiously to elevate his eyebrows. 
It was a kind of case he was not familiar with. Though perfectly 
sane, and calm and happy, he was kept under restraint for a 
month, and he was accustomed to say that that month, almost 
entirely alone with God and his Bible, was the happiest period 
of his life. 

That work of grace, so strangely begun, was thorough and 
abiding. It was well known in the station, and produced a great 
impression for good, supported as it was by his subsequent con- 



sistenfc conduct. It was years after his conversion that I knew 
him intimately in Burma as a non-commissioned officer, serving 
in an important and responsible military position, for which he 
had been specially selected ; and I knew him for several years as 
a consistent Christian, whose firm example and happy, cheerful 
character made him a blessing to others, and who was never 
backward in quietly and judiciously speaking for the Master. 



IGA^YE her a rose long years ago, 
When ber hair was golden and our love was new 
A crimson rose, its leaves aglow 
With glistening drops of silver dew. 

I plucked a rose from her grave to-day ; 

My hair is silver, the grave is old ; 
And I whispered, " Love is love always," 

As I dropped a tear in its heart of gold. 



"E had a great desire in the mission to pay a visit to the 

TT Chin tribes on the western frontier, with the view of 
ascertaining their locality and circumstances. Consequently, 
when the cool season arrived, the usual time of year for tours, 
I started with my brother missionary, Mr. Bestall, then stationed 
at Pakokku, for a journey to the Chin country. The Chins, as 
explained in Chapter X., are not Buddhists, but worshippers of 
spirits or demons, and are on that account more barbarous, and, 
contradictory as it may seem to say so, more ready of access than 
the Buddhistic races, to Christian mission efibrt. 

We left Pakokku at 4 a.m. one morning in November, mounted 
on two lively Burmese ponies, with a cart drawn by a pair of 
bullocks for our things. In travelling through the jungle you 
need to take almost everything you require ; so that when the 
sugar, and salt, and tea, and bread, and butter, and tins of meat 
(in case the gun brings down nothing), and soap, and candles, 
and rice, and curry, and frying-pan, and kettle, and crockery, 
and a few other simple necessaries, not omitting medicines, are 
packed up in a box, and the pillows and rugs for the night rolled 
up in a mat, and a change or two of clothes put in a portmanteau, 
and a few Gospel portions and tracts included, to distribute in 
the villages as we pass along, you find you require a cart to carry 
them. As the cart can only travel, on an average, about two 
miles an hour, it requires a long day to do twenty miles. There 
is no advantage in going ahead of the cart, you oidy have to 




wait at the end of the stage, and it is more enjoyable to spend 
the time in leisurely travelling. In this way these jungle 
journeys, though the travelling is rough and often fatiguing, are 
very serviceable for the sake of the change of air and scene, and 
the free out -door exercise they afford. 

We managed to make a stage of six miles before it was 
daylight, and pushed on the next stage of fifteen miles farther 
without stopping. There we halted at one of the establishments 
constructed at every stage along this route, to accommodate troops 
and convoys, on the march' to the military and police stations on 
the frontier. It consisted of long rows of temporary bamboo 
barracks, and a bamboo shed for the officers. There was a 
Burmese police guard close by. How regularly and irreproachably 
that Burman constable shouldered his rifle, and did his " sentry 
go," while we were looking on ! Here we halted for our midday 
meal and a short rest. It is wonderful with what dexterity your 
native servant, availing himself of almost no facilities for cooking, 
can produce you a savoury breakfast on the march. Three 
stones or bricks to support the kettle, and the same for the 
frying-pan, are all he requires for a fireplace, and a few sticks 
and bits of bamboo out of the jungle are enough for a fire. In 
the afternoon we did another twelve miles, making thirty- three 
miles that day, which was rather more than the cartman would 
have driven his bullocks, if it had not been that the next day 
was Sunday, the day of rest. The weather was lovely, being the 
best time of the year for a journey. It w^as not much hotter 
in the day than a warm summer day in England ; the nights 
and mornings were chilly. 

At Pyinchaung we halted on the Saturday night, again 
putting up in the temporary military lines. The route we had 
taken was not a road, as we understand roads in England, but, 
strictly speaking, more of a track, fairly passable in dry weather 
for carts, but almost impracticable after heavy rains. Good 
metalled roads are a luxury we have not seen much of as yet 
in Upper Burma, but we shall get them in course of time. On 
the Sunday we rested, and spent some time amongst the villagers? 
distributing tracts and preaching. Here we had the misfortune 



to lose our two ponies. Mr. Bestall, pitying them, that there 
was so Uttle grass to eat in the rest-house enclosure, opened 
his kind heart, and the gate at the same time, and let them out 
to graze, giving them m chai-ge to the cartman to look after. 
He followed them for awhile, and then, native-like, came back 
without them. We went in search of them, but never saw them 
again that journey. They strayed for many miles, and it was 
a month before they were brought back. It speaks well for 
the hold the English now have on the country, and the gi'eat 
diminution of crime, that search was made in all the district 
round, and they were returned by the police, as we felt sure 
they would be. We had to borrow for the rest of the way. 

An eloquent reminder of the troublous times we had then 
barely passed through, was the little police fort close by the 
rest-house, constructed on the top of a ruined pagoda, where 
there was a view of the country for some distance round. During 
the first three or four years of British I'ule places like this had 
ta be selected wherever practicable, and made strong enough 
to stand a rush by dacoits, and a careful watch had to be kept. 
The little bamboo house was perched right on the top of the 
steep mound of ruined biickwork, a wall breast high was erected 
round it, and with a few resolute men, well armed, inside, it 
would not have been easy to take. The rest-house at Pyinchaung, 
looking westward, overlooked a most lovely valley of great extent 
and fertility, through which we had now to pass. This valley 
looks as if it miglit have been at one time the bed of a mighty 
river, but the stream is now contracted to a very narrow span, 
and the alluvial soil of this rich valley is a veritable land of 
plenty. I never saw a region more lovely with " the fairer forms 
that cultivation glories in " than the Yaw valley then appeared. 
Whilst crossing this great valley we rode through fields of maize, 
and another tall grain, a kind of millet, far above our heads, 
with rice fields here and there, and abundance of pumpkins, beans 
and other vegetables, the ponies snat(;hing an occasional bite at 
the sweet juicy stems and leaves of the millet, which they are 
so fond of. Carts in great numbers passed vis, drawn by well-fed, 
j)lump oxen, and mostly laden with the leaves which envelop 



the maize cobs, all laid straight and packed neatly in bundles. 
The maize crop had nearly all been reaped, and these leaves of 
the Yaw valley maize, not the grain itself, form the most valuable 
product of the crop, and are largely sold all over Burma for the 
purpose of enveloping Burmese cigars. 

The people of this district all looked fat and well fed. There 
was abundance of cattle, and the inhabitants of that region 
seemed to want for nothing in a material point of view. Fifteen 
miles from Pyinchaung we reached Pauk, a small Burmese town, 
the headquarters of the township officer, a police officer, and 
a lieutenant in charge of a detachment of Madras troops. They 
were all very young Englishmen, two of them apparently not 
over twenty-five, and it might have seemed odd at first sight 
to see such young men in such responsible positions. But 
suddenly having to find a sufficient staff of officials, to rule over 
a country as large as France, has involved engaging the services 
of many young men, for they mast enter upon their duties young 
to be properly trained for the work ; and it is a notable fact 
that the great work of pacifying and restoring to order Upper 
Burma has been chiefly the work of very young men. The civil 
officer is a magistrate, and has to try such cases as are within 
his jurisdiction, to collect the revenue through his native subor- 
dinates, to keep his eye on everything in general, and to keep the 
Deputy Commissioner of the district informed of all that is 
going on, to initiate whatever is needful for the well-being of the 
community, and to act the part of a father to the people of his 
township, which is as large, though not so populous, as an 
English county. The police inspector is responsible for the 
maintenance of order, and the pursuit and arrest of criminals ; 
and the military may at any time be called out to take the field, 
and try conclusions with some dacoit band that has gathered 
in force. As far as I could judge they all seemed very fit for 
the work they had to do. 

Only a year or so before, this township of Pauk was in an 
exceedingly disturbed state, by reason of dacoit bands ; and if 
things had not greatly improved, we could never have travelled 
unprotected through it as we did. It is to the credit of these 
' 16 



young men, and the troops and police under them, that things 
are so peaceable now. We saw at Pauk the same abundant 
evidences of prosperity and improvement, that are visible every- 
where throughout the country, not only in the erection of a new 
court house and public Government ofBce, and many private 
houses, but still more in the great improvements made about the 
town, in the improvement of the roads, and most of all in the 
construction of a new bazaar, which the township officer showed 
us through with pardonable pride, and in which a great deal of 
business was going on. 

Having stayed in Pauk the night, we were off the next morning 
early, forded the river, travelled a stage, and rested for our mid- 
day meal in a monastery. This is no uncommon thing in Burma ; 
we had occasion to do so several times on this journey. There is 
hardly a village without its monastery, one or more, always the 
best building in the place, and kept very clean ; and it generally 
happens, as in this case, that there are some vacant buildings used 
as rest-houses by chance travellers. We always found the monks 
affable and pleasant to meet, quite chatty, with a kind of friendly 
familiarity entering at once into conversation, and evidently not 
having the slightest objection to seeing us about the premises. 
We, on otir part, reciprocated these advances, and made things 
pleasant all round. ' 

Thus we travelled on from day to day, as fast as our bullocks 
could make the journey, which was very slowly indeed. As we 
could gain nothing by going ahead of om* cart, we were obliged to 
spend the spare time as best we could. My companion, having 
a gun, and being a good shot, managed to get something every 
day, which, in the entire absence of the butcher's shop, was very 
acceptable for the larder. We had either a hare, wild pigeons, 
jungle fowl, partridges, or something. Game is abundant on the 
route, and in the jungle you have no fear of encroaching on any- 
body's preserves. 

I suppose there are few places in the world now, however 
remote, where an Englishman is not constantly meeting with 
some \\*andering specimens of his countrymen; and even in the 
wildest recesses of the jungles of Uppei' Burma, you are liable to 



the discovery that the genus Englishman inchides the species 
gentleman and the species snob. We had a curious illustration 
of this. Arriving one evening, long after dark, about eight 
o'clock, at a roadside rest-house, built by the Public Works 
Department for the common use of English travellers, we found 
a gentleman whom I will call Captain X. He was travelling in 
charge of a large military convoy of elephants, ponies and other 
baggage animals, carrying up supplies to one of the distant 
military stations in the Chin country. He and a junior com- 
panion were in possession of the comfortable, spacious, three - 
roomed bamboo rest-house, where there would have been ample 
accommodation for us as well, with our scanty travelling kit, in 
the third room, which they were not using ; and they had really 
no more right to monopolise the whole than we had. However, 
they were in possession ; and on our presenting ourselves at the 
door. Captain X. never so much as asked us to step inside, never 
attempted even to ascertain who we were, or to enter at all into 
conversation with us, but simply dii'ected our attention to a dirty, 
shabby bamboo shed at the lower part of the compound, built for 
natives, and at that moment quite full of Burman coolies, who, 
he cheerfully assured us, would readily " nip out " and make 
room for us, if we asked them. Some people's idea of the pur- 
pose of other people seems to be that they were meant by 
Providence to " nip out " and make way for them ! Gathering 
from his manner that he did not mean us to have the use of the 
vacant room at the rest-house, or to show the slightest courtesy in 
any way, we betook ourselves to the said outbuilding. The cour- 
teous Burmans squeezed themselves into smaller space, and left 
us enough room to spread our rugs on the bamboo floor, and we 
managed to put up for the night. I am glad to say that this 
kind of discourtesy is very uncommon indeed abroad. In all my 
experience of many years in Ceylon and Burma, I have never met 
with such scant civility from a fellow-traveller in the jungle, but 
always something more in accordance with the circumstances. 

A striking contrast to this was the gentlemanly conduct of 
Lieutenant T., whom we happened to meet in a similar way at a 
rest-house on the return journey. He was in possession, too, before 



we arrived, and though that rest-house only consisted of one room, 
which he was occupying, he most kindly pi-essed us to share it 
with him. This, however, we would not do, but decided to occupy 
a zayat which we found vacant close by. We entered into con- 
versation, and shortly after, when we took leave of him for the 
night, we found that, finding our cart had not arrived, and that 
our supper would have been long delayed, he had sent his servant 
boy round with enough supper for both of us, and a candle by the 
light of which to eat it ! Lieutenant T. is a brave man, and has 
made quite a name in connection with the rough military and 
civil work of the last few years, amongst the tribes of the western 
frontier. He has been, as we were elsewhere informed, in thir- 
teen engagements ; and he was at that time returning to his 
distant appointment on the hills, from an event which must have 
been to him, as a soldier, the proudest moment of his life, when 
the general decoi-ated him, in the pi*esence of all the troops of the 
station assembled on pai'ade, with the Distinguished Service Order. 
It was currently reported by his brother-officers that it would 
have been the Victoria Cross, had he not been in command of the 
detachment on the special occasion, and as the writer of the 
despatch, ho chivalrously gave the praise to another. 

1 could not but observe this, as another instance, showing that 
true bravery is usually associated with true modesty, and all 
other gentlemanly qualities. 

We now began to make our way over a mountainous ridge, 
along which an earthen road had been cut out, but not gravelled, 
and many a rustic bridge erected over the torrents that crossed 
the track, by the British, about a year before, on purpose for the 
Chin Expedition, and for subsequent traffic. Some £35,000 we 
were told had been spent upon it. Some thousands of coolies wore 
brought over from India, and the thing was done without delay. 
The expedition would have been almost impossible without a 
road. This serves to give the re.ader a glimpse of what it means 
to undertake the pacification and administration of a new 
country of abundant i-esources, but without means of communi- 
cation, and with much raiding and dacoity going on. A road, 
or still better a railway, always means increased traffic and 



commerce, better markets for produce, and better means of 
getting about, and is itself, therefore, a pacifier and ci\^liser of 
no mean account ; and it soon tends, under British law and 
insistence on good behaviour, to demonstrate that honesty is the 
best policy. Good government should always make it pay better 
to lead an honest, industrious, orderly life, than to pursue a career 
of robbery and violence — shoidd, in fact, make it hard to do 
wrong and easy to do right. 

This part of our journey was through a hilly and picturesque 
country, consisting almost entirely of thick natural forest, with 
many teak and other fine timber trees, and bamboo jungle every- 
where. At Thileng we were ninety-eight miles from Pakokku, 
and close to the Chin Hills. We had here to leave the road, and 
our cart could go no farther with us, as the hills are very pre- 
cipitous, and there is only a jungle path. We therefore reduced 
our baggage to the lowest possible limits of sheer necessity, and 
had our few things carried the remainder of the journey by a 
couple of coolies. 

We observed that the village of Thileng had some attempts at 
protection against the Chin raids. At each of the four ends of 
the village, where the two main roads, placed at light angles, lead 
out to the jungle, there are log huts erected, where a police 
guard can be sheltered against their arrows and spears, and the 
gates are shut at night. The remaining protection consists of 
a broad hedge of dead thorns heaped all round the village. At 
this and several villages in the vicinity sad tales were told us of 
Chin raids, in which Burmans were taken captive, and some of 
them detained amongst the Chins for many years. The various 
British expeditions sent up to the Chin tribes, with a view of 
reducing them to order, have released from time to time a great 
many of these unfortunate people, and the practice will soon 
come to an end, if it has not already ceased. This is one example 
of the ways in which English rule is a great blessing to a country 
like Burma, in removing such an intolerable burden as this 
constant dread of these murderous and disastrous raids, and the 
subsequent miseries of the unfortunate captives. The distance 
from Thileng to Pinloak, the nearest Chin village, is about 



sixteen miles, and over as rugged and difficult a path as ever 
I travelled. About noon we halted, and had our lunch at the 
bottom of a very lovely gorge, by the side of an icy-cold stream, 
just the picturesque kind of place that would become a favourite 
with tourists in England. 

At about two o'clock we approached the village, and we halted, 
under cover of the tall grass, while our Burman guide went 
forward to announce our approach. Presently they called to us 
to come forward, and we emerged from the tall grass upon a 
clearing, on the steep hillside, of several acres. The forest trees 
and undergrowth had been felled and burnt, and crops of various 
kinds of grain, cultivated in a rough and ready manner, and a 
few vegetables, were growing. The people received us in a 
friendly way, and we went forward and rested in the nearest 
house, which was of bamboo, something like the houses of the 
Burmans. We found the Chins in many respects different from 
the Burmans — far more backward in ci\alisation. In colovir they 
are about the same complexion, a light brown, but altogether 
dirty and unwashed. The men wear the merest rag of a gar- 
ment, the women wear a kind of tunic covering the body, but the 
legs and thighs and feet are quite bare. Tlie peculiar custom of 
tattooing the faces of the women, described in Chapter X., gives 
them rather a hideous appearance, and when seen in such a dress, 
with the face tattooed in that fashion, and with a bamboo pipe 
stuck in their mouths, smoking, the effect is not the most lady- 
like imaginable. Still it is only fair to say that the women we 
saw, despite all these disadvantages, did not strike us as looking 
particularly unwomanly. Some of the faces, both of the men 
and women, were of rather a fine cast, notwithstanding their 
barbarous, unkempt appearance ; but the greater part of them 
wore that degraded appearance which utter ignorance and the 
many hardships of a savage life generally produce. As I have 
given many particulars about the manners and customs of the 
Chins in a former chapter, I need not repeat it. We spent the 
afternoon fraternising with them in their houses, making pur- 
chases of some of their weapons and other articles, which they 
certainly did not make the mistake of charging too little for, and 


WsS L' 




witnessing their wonderfully accurate shooting with the bow 
and arrow. 

As evening drew on our Burmese guide advised us to camp out 
across the river in preference to sleeping in the village. As the 
best native houses in Burma are apt to harbour much vermin, 
and as the Chins never think of such a thing as washing their 
bodies, it may be understood that we were not unwilling to take 
that advice. Moreover, it was desirable to avoid any comphcations 
that might lead to a breach of the peace, for with barbarians it 
is sometimes a word and a' blow, and the blow first. We there- 
fore crossed the river and prepared to camp out in the forest, 
under a great clump of bamboos, spreading our mats on the sand, 
and kindling a good fire, for it became very cold as the night 
advanced, and the dew dropped from the trees almost like rain. 
Some of the Chins came over and sat with us as we ate our 
supper, accepting a taste of each article, and testifying their 
approval, especially of the jam. As one or two of them could 
talk Burmese we were able to converse with them, and until late 
at night they stayed listening round our camp fire, as we told 
them about England and its greatness, and tried to explain, as 
well as we could make them understand, some of the leading 
truths of Christianity. 

I must not omit to state what it was in us that astonished 
them most of all. After they had investigated the mystery of 
the gun, and had fired off a cartridge, and had examined whatever 
else we had about us that was curious, my companion suggested 
to me that, as I embodied in my own person a good example of 
the dentist's art, it might be well to let them see what the English 
experts could do in supplementing deficiencies of that nature. 
I thought it was a good suggestion ; so calling their special 
attention to what I was about to do, I quietly detached the upper 
set of teeth and held it forth at arm's length, full in the gaze of 
the astonished barbarians, and then slipped it back again in a 
moment, and showed them that I was able to eat with them just 
as well as they could with theirs. We had expected them to be 
surprised at this exhibition, but their astonishment exceeded our 
expectation. Up to that moment my friend, as the proprietor of 



the gun, and the more affable and engaging gentleman of the two, 
had been the chief centre of observation and admiration, but after 
that he had to take the second place. They were greatly amazed. 
Never had they seen such a thing before. They had no idea it 
was possible to do it. To I make a gun, or any other piece of 
mechanism, or any manufactured article, was very likely within 
the power of a highly civilised people. But to be able to detach 
and take out the whole upper set of teeth, gums, palate and all 
(apparently), and then to slip them in again, and enjoy the full 
and perfect use of them ! — that far exceeded any notions they 
had previously formed of what was possible, and they evidently 
I'egarded this not as a piece of mechanism, but more in the light 
of an utterly inexplicable, if not magical, accomplishment. 

It is not amiss for barbarous people like these, who have been 
accustomed to set all law and order at defiance, and raided upon 
Burmese territory just as they liked, to have the opportunity of 
seeing foi* themselves some marks of a superior civilisation. It 
may be expected to induce in them a wholesome dread of the 
British power, and a more orderly and peaceful mode of life. 

They begged us to stay over the next day, stating that they 
wished to bring their people from far and near to see this strange 
sight, but the risk of fever, through sleeping out in the jungle, 
was too great to justify us in remaining longer, and next day we 
left Pinloak, and returned the way we came. And we live in hopes 
that, when the funds will allow of it, the information we gleaned 
on this tour may be turned to good account. 


ONE of the painful sights which sjiecially attracts the notice of 
the European in Burma is the large number of lepers to be 
seen in all the public places. As you walk along the streets you 
see them, sitting in tlie dust, holding out their mutilated limbs, 
from which sometimes all traces of hands and feet have ulcerated 
away. If you go into the great bazaar, they are seen mingling 
with the crowds of buyers and sellers. If you go to the great 
pagodas, where hundreds of people congregate daily, there are 
lepers sitting on the steps, and appealing to the generosity of the 
worshippers. At the gates of the ro}'al city, and in the public 
zayats or resting places, they are to be found ; and when the leper 
has dragged about his poor diseased body as long as he is able, 
he lies down to die, a friendless, homeless outcast. In Burma, 
until we took the matter up, there was no organised relief for 
them beyond chance coppers, no place of refuge where they coidd 
be housed and provided for. 

Seeing the lepers were so numerous, I began to investigate the 
matter, and as a preliminary measure looked up the statistics of 
the leper population of Burma. There had then been no census 
in Upper Burma, but according to the census of 1881, there were 
upwards of 2,500 returned as lepers in Lower Burma. Large as 
that number is, it is to be feared that it does not fully represent 
the evil, for the people naturally object to being called lepers 
even if the}'' are, as though by avoiding the name they could hope 
to avoid the awful thing. I have known a leper, so far advanced 




as to have lost the whole of both his hands, and quite emaciated 
in body, declare in answer to my question, that it was not leprosy, 
only " Koh-ma-koung-bu," a bad state of body. To form a fair 
estimate of the actual number of lepers in Burma, we should have 
to make a considerable addition to the 2,500 returned for Lower 
Burma, and multiply that by two, to take in both Upper and 
Lower Burma. It is probably not too much to say that there 
will be about one leper to every thousand of the population. 

I have often been asked what is the cause of leprosy. That is 
not a question that can be answered in a word. The native of 
India makes short work of it. lie scarcely recognises any laws in 
nature but the one law of his fate. 

" I saw a leper," writes Mr. Bailey,* " in a shop, sitting in the 
midst of his goods. lie sells letel nut, tobacco, oil, cakes, etc. 
He has a leprous brother living with him, also a brother not 
leprous, and a niece who already shows signs of the disease. We 
asked the healthy brother if he were not afraid to live in the 
house, and he said that if it were not God's will he could not take 
the disease." So far as science has yet ascertained, three causes 
may be specified : (1) Insanitary conditions of life generally, as 
predisposing to it. (2) Heredity, to some extent. (3) Contagion 
resulting from lengthened residence in close company with leprous 
and insanitary surroundings. It is not yet determined to what 
extent these causes respectively operate. It is the business of the 
Leprosy Commissioners, sent out at the expense of the National 
Leprosy Fund, of which the Prince of Wales is the President, to 
try and ascertain more on these points, by the careful and exhaus- 
tive inquiries they have been pursuing ; and their report is now 

In India there are medical men who have studied this disease 
for many years, for there are hundreds of thousands of lepers 
scattered over India. Dr. Munro, an acknowledged authority, 
and a man of deep research, says : " Summing up, therefore, 
leprosy is not always, but only very rarely, transmitted from 

* " The Lepers of our Indian Empire," by W. C. Bailey, Secretary of the 
Mission to Lepers. (J. F. Shaw & Co., London ) A book well worthy of 
perusal by all who would like to know more on this subject. 



generation to generation, has never been proved to be transmitted 
without contact, is not constantly transmitted even when both 
parents are diseased, seldom affects more than one child in a 
family, and those only successively, independently of age, some- 
times the youngest first, after contact, and goes back from child 
to parent when in contact. From all I have learned of the 
disease, I can find no proof of even the hereditary predisposition 
allowed to exist by Virchow, but feel much inclined to believe 
vnih Land re, that contagion is the only cause of its propaga- 

On the contrary, another expert. Dr. MacLaren, who has been 
in charge of a leper asylum at Dehra for many years, and has 
very carefully studied the question, has come to the conclu- 
sion, after an exhaustive inquiry into the antecedents of all the 
inmates of his asylum, that 36*4 per cent, of the cases were dis- 
tinctly traceable to heredity. A curious light has been thrown 
on these mutually conti-adictory conclusions, by the contrast in the 
experience of two different homes for lepers shown in the follow- 
ing quotation from Mr. Bailey's book. At Tarn Taran there is a 
large Government Institution, supported by the different munici- 
palities that send lepers to it. Here no restriction is placed 
on marriage, and there is no attempt at the separation of the 
sexes, consequently many children are born in the asylum. The 
missionary of the Church Missionary Society stationed there 
says :— 

" Of all the persons born at that asylum during the last thii ty 
years, I know of only two men who up to the present have not 
become confirmed lepers. But even these, when last I saw them, 
began to show signs of the disease upon them. How different is 
the history of the asylum at Almora, which is largely maintained 
by the Mission to Lepers in India ! There, for many years past, 
this plan of separating the children from their parents has been 
adopted with most gratifying results. Of all those who have been 
thus separated, only one child has shown any signs of the disease. 
Many more are now out in the world, and gaining their own live- 
lihood. Surely we have here a most striking proof, that in one 
direction at least a great deal can be done towards stopping the 



spread of leprosy. What a wide field for the exercise of Christian 
love is thrown open to us in this branch of work ! The followers 
of Jesus no longer possess the power of curing ' diseases and all 
manner of sicknesses ' by a touch or a word ; but in these who 
may soon be lepers, the ' least ' of Christ's little ones, there is 
given to all an opportunity of stretching forth the hand of loving 
compassion, and of saying, 'Be clean.' " 

At the time the public mind was greatly exercised on this 
leprosy question, and the Leper Bill for India was being considered, 
the Bombay Medical and Physical Society met to discuss the 
subject. There was a general consensus of opinion amongst these 
medical men that heredity is a mode of propagation, though some 
were of the contrary opinion. As regards contagion as a mean": 
of propagation, the majority of the medical men considered it was 
It seems, however, to be not easily communicable by contagion, but 
due to continuous and lengthened contact, together with predis- 
posing general causes. So far no cure for leprosy has been dis- 

Some authorities have expressed the opinion that in some way 
fish-food, especially when either salted or decomposed, is largely 
to blame for its origin. The Burmese ngapee, which consists of 
partly decomposed fish made into a paste, can hardly be a healthy 
article of diet, and may have something to do with predisposing 
to this and other diseases in Burma. 

As the disease advances, mutilation and wasting of the fingers 
and toes set in, extending in time to the whole hand and foot. 
The sight is often dimmed or lost, and a kind of horny substance 
grows over the eyeballs. The skin of the face becomes thickened, 
giving the countenance a peculiarly heavy, morose expression. 
Thus the disease progresses, and the constitution becomes enfeebled, 
luitil the leper falls a victim to some other malady ; for leprosy is 
not often the immediate cause of death. In the anaesthetic form 
of leprosy all feeling leaves the part specially affected. Mr. Bailey 
tells of a case of this kind. " One poor fellow was pointed out to 
me who had burnt himself fearfully, in burning the dead body of 
a comrade. He knew nothing of it at the time — the dead burn* 
ing the dead ! " 


In the institution at Madras, out of 233 inmates, no less than 
34 were Europeans or Eurasians, chiefly the latter. 

The leper's lot in India and Burma is a terribly sad one. The 
following picture of his condition is drawn by Colonel E. H. Paske, 
late Deputy Commissioner of Kangra, Punjab : — 

^' Leprosy is a slow, creeping disease, seldom or never imme- 
diately fatal, though shortening life. It is accompanied by a 
great deal of physical pain and suffering, and an amount of 
mental torture varying with the natural sensibilities of the victim. 
The leper's life is burdensome to himself, and his presence loath- 
some to those around him ; no object can be more pitiable, more 
repulsive, or more terrible. 

" While the living body is undergoing a process of perceptible 
waste and decay in a manner the most loathsome, the mind is 
subjected to the most depressing influences, aggravated by the 
life of separation and isolation which the sufferer is forced to lead. 
As soon as the leprous taint becomes apparent, the victim is 
shunned by those around him, even members of his household 
avoiding his touch. For a time he leads a life of separation in 
his own home ; but as the disease progresses^ and his appearance is 
rendered more repulsive, he becomes an outcast, wandering through 
the country, subsisting by beggary, or else located in a small hut 
at a distance from all other habitations. A tiuly piteous sight 
it is to see the leper crouching outside his hovel, holding out 
wasted stumps that once were hands, and crying for alms from 
the passing ti-aveller. When the leper resides near his home, 
his relatives, or fellow-villagers, make provision for his wants, 
but for a time only ; they soon tire of the burden of his support. 
Too frequently, when police reports announce that a leper has 
been found dead, has committed suicide, or has been burnt to 
death in his hut, there is reason to believe that those who have 
been responsible for the maintenance of the sufferer had adopted 
sure means of freeing themselves from the burden. In one 
instance where a leper had been murdered by his own sons and 
brothers, the prisoners on their trial pleaded that they had put 
an end to the man's existence at his own request, to spare him 
from further suffering. In another instance, where a leper had 



been buried rJive by his next-of-kin, it was urged that this mode 
of death would prevent the disease from becoming hereditary. 
Such are briefly a few particulars of the life of the poor crippled 
leper in India. An outcast, he still clings to life in a condition 
the most helpless — an object so repulsive that charity almost 
loathes to approach it." 

From the foregoing information it is abundantly evident that 
there is great need for the establishment of Homes for Lepers. 
Mr. Bailey, in his recent tour through India, visited twenty-six 
homes, where he saw in all 1,425 lepers, and he thinks that not 
more than 5,000 poor sufferers are being provided for throughout 
the whole of the empire, out of several hundreds of thousands 
who need such provision. 

It was about the beginning of 1890, when our general mission 
work w^as getting upon its feet, and the pressure of the early 
difficulties was relieved a little, that I became concerned to 
do something for the lepers in Upper Burma, for whom nothing- 
was being done. I w^aited upon Sir Charles Crosthwaite, then 
Chief Commissioner, to broach the subject to him, and was very 
cordially received. Sir Charles welcomed the idea. There was 
nothing of the kind, he said, in all Burma. Government could 
not well do anything directly in the matter, and even if they 
could, he remarked that we, the missionaries, could do it much 
better, that is, more kindly and mercifully than they could. He 
would gladly do all he could to help the scheme. Government 
would give the land, and lie himself started the subscription list 
with one hundred rupees. 

Encouraged by this, I issued a printed circular, setting forth 
the object of the undertaking, and appealing to all classes for 
subsciiptions. There was a very liberal response to this appeal 
from all classes and sections of the population. I wrote to the 
Prince of Wales, as President of the National Leprosy Fund. 
My application was handed to the Secretary of the Fund, and 
in due time there came, in response to this application, through 
the Viceroy of India, a draft in rupees which was the equivalent 
of £80. I also put myself in communication with the Mission 
to Lepers, and received from that Society immediate lielp in the 



form of a contribution, and eventually we placed ourselves amongst 
the number of Homes for Lepers supported by the Society. 

In all 6,500 rupees were collected for a commencement. The 
land assigned to us by Government was fenced in, and the first 
ward of the Home was erected in January 1891, in the usual 
Burmese style — teak posts, board floor raised a few feet from 
the ground, bamboo matting for the walls, and thatched roof, 
with accommodation for fifteen inmates. The time had then 
arrived for us to go home to England on furlough, and it fell 
to the lot of my colleague, Mr. Bestall, to gather in the sufferers, 
if he could induce them to trust themselves to our care. 

Many had been the predictions that the whole thing would 
prove a failure. The lepers would never be induced to come ; if 
they came they would never stay. But these fears have not been 
realised. As regards the fiist experiences in the Home for Lepers 
I could not do better than let Mr. Bestall tell the story for 
himself. Towards the end of 1891 he writes : — 

" It is eight months to-day since I set out in the early morning 
to persuade a few lepers, who lay dying beneath the shadow of 
Mandalay's pagodas, to enter the refuge we had prepared for 
them. I anticipated reluctance on the part of these lone creatures 
to commit themselves to the care of an Englishman. Only five 
years before, the Burmese king reigned in the palace. Suddenly 
all Mandalay was in a ferment of dread. English war boats had 
touched the strand, and Biitish soldiers were marching through 
the streets, to take the city and capture King Theebaw. Only 
last year the crack of our rifles was heard in many parts of the 
country, and even as I write British troops are marching out 
of the city to take part in fresh expeditions on the frontiers. 
Burma is not the settled country it will be ten years hence, nor 
has there yet been time for the people of the conquered, land to 
trust us implicitly. I quite expected, therefore, suspicion and 
fear on the part of these, the poorest and most desolate of our 
Burmese fellow-subjects. Persuasion was my only means of 
gathering them in. To many I was an executioner. What 
could I want with them except to put them to death ? ' We 




pray thee let us remain here,' some said. * For mercy's sake 
do not take me,' others replied. All were in great terror. I could 
not but be touched by the timid, fearful attitude of many, and 
I was very thankful when •! saw the first leper on his way in a 
bullock cart to our Home for Lepers. It was sad to see how 
they hugged their wretched dwellings, and clung to their filthy 
haunts. Christian philanthropy they could not understand. I 
promised them permission to return if they did not like the 

" The first day's work of rescue was a long one, and the break- 
fast ran into the tea hour before I returned with seven inmates 
for the Home for Lepers. Bazaars, where the people congre- 
gate to buy and sell all sorts of food, are always centres of attrac- 
tion to paupers, lepers and pariah dogs. It is not uncommon 
to see a poor old leprous native handle the orange or banana on 
the stall, and ply the world-wide query ' How much 1' It is 
a sad and even disgusting state of things, and it is a dangerous 
one too. For ages it has gone on ; and as far as I know, that 
morning's work eight months ago was the first attempt ever 
made in Burma to stay the evil and rescue the lepers. 

" We started with a small bungalow capable of housing fifteen 
inmates. In a little while the number was comjileted, and I 
thought of extending the work. I made use of the sufferers 
already gathered in, sending them out in bullock carts, in charge 
of a faithful Tamil helper, to advertise the comforts of the Home 
to theii* leprous countrymen. Narayanaswamy took a great 
interest in this work, and was invaluable as an assistant. He 
met a dreadful fate whilst living at the Home, as I shall after- 
wards describe, but for six months his fidelity and zeal in leper 
rescue work were admirable. You should have seen his face 
light up when he met me at the gate on my daily visit. * The 
leopards are all safe, sir,' he would say. And though he knew 
no more of hunting than his own infant, he would often come 
across to the mission-house with joy to say, ' Brought two more 
leopards to the Home to-day, sir.' With his help I extended 
the work, and built four new houses for the reception of further 
cases So that now we have three large bungalows and two 



hospital buildings, a caretaker's house, and — for the purpose of 
preparing food for the settlement — a substantial brick cook-house. 
To-day we have fifty inmates in all stages of the disease, of all 
ages, varying from a little girl of twelve years, to an old man 
with hair as white as snow. 

" The site of the Leper Settlement is over five acres in extent. 
This area is divided into two sections by a bamboo fence. The 
western section is given up to female lepers, the eastern to males. 
The bungalows for men- will accommodate sixty, and we have 
room for twenty-five women. The hospitals are used for separat- 
ing cases of extreme disease from the other inmates. A mortuary 
has recently been added. Daily worship is conducted, generally 
by our few young men whom we are training for preachers and 
teachers. The singing is not good — how can it be with such a 
congregation ? But the poor souls make a noise, and that is 
enough in these early days ! If they can't sing, they can and 
do listen. In preaching we have to begin at the beginning and 
finish there. The idea of a Saviour is to them very surprising. 
They always thought they had to save themselves. The cleans- 
ing Jesus is a new hope to them, for they have been taught to 
cleanse themselves. 

" Service over, the food is brought to the different houses. The 
boiled rice is carried in a large basket ; the curry of meat, fish, 
or vegetables in earthenware bowls. The lepers eat like ravenous 
schoolboys, and I believe they have greater appetites than tlie 
hale and hearty inhabitants of Mandalay. After breakfast they 
sit and chat, and read, and — the inevitable — sleep. The few 
who are able keep the place clean ; but no work can be done by 
the majority. Many of them are without fingers, some without 
hands. The evening meal is always welcomed, and we get 
evening worship when it is possible. At present we have no 
converted leper.* When we have a few Christian inmates, much 

* In a letter received four months later than this, Mr. Bestall writes : 
" I am very glad to tell you of one poor old leper, one of the first who came 
into the Home, finding Christ. He is a sad sight, but after fourteen months' 
instruction and thought, he Ihas come out from among his fellow-lepers and 
publicly professed Christ, I don't expect him to live long." 



of the religious work may be conducted by the lepers themselves. 
This institution, in addition to being a boon to the public, and 
to the diseased ones, will in time become to the latter the gate 
of heaven. 

" In the eight months of our work among them death has been 
very busy. Naturally the bodies of these sufferers are little able 
to cope with sickness. When a leper sinks he sinks like lead. 
The pale face, the sunken cheeks, the loss of appetite, the un- 
natural smile, all tell of a speedy end. We have had nine deaths. 
Some of them have been very touching. The worst case we have 
received was a woman named Mah So. She was revolting to 
look at. She had no hands, and her wrists were raw ; she was 
stone blind, and her sightless eyes were covered with a horny skin ; 
she had no feet, and her legs were eaten away to above the anjiles ; 
she could only crawl about upon her elbows and knees. I felt 
more pity for her than for any other fellow -creature I ever saw. 
I preached to her in a little hut made on purpose for her. She 
was in dense ignorance. It was very difficult work indeed. She 
became ill, and was quite helpless. She lingered for a week. 
Often she would say, ' I want to die ; it is no good living ; I can't 
eat, can't sleep ; I want to die.' I asked her, ' Where are you 
going ? ' 'I don't know.' ' Would you like to go to Jesus ? ' 
' Yes, but I don't know Him.' I told her to repeat after me, 
' Lord Jesus, I am Mah So, a dying leper ; take me in my weakness 
and save me now. Amen.' She repeated the short prayer, and 
ched during the night. I never saw a case of more utter misery, 
and never did a soul pray to Christ from a lower depth of 
emaciation and disease. Was not that prayer answered ? 

" One night a young man came of his own accord to the Home. 
* Let me in ; I am very ill,' he said. He had only five days to live. 
Dysentery, fever and leprosy, a hideous trio, w ere all ' dragging ' 
him, as the Burmans say. We had the opportunity of directing 
him to Christ in the last hours of his life. And other instances 
of dying lepers listening to the news of the lepers' Saviour come 
to me as I write. But these cases are sufficient to show the 
nature of our spiritual work among this class of the population. 

"Our greatest trial has been the loss of the caretaker. On 



my return from Rangoon recently,* we rode over to visit the 
Home. Narayanaswamy met us at the gates, but his face wore 
so unnatural an expression that I at once asked him, ' Down with 
fever again % ' ' No, sir,' he replied, ' but I have a bad pain here,' 
pointing to the back of his head. He looked so strange that I 
told him to go to the doctor. A bullock gharry stood at the gate. 
The poor fellow walked to it, but had to cross a bridge over a little 
ditch, in which lay some water. Immediately he saw the water 
he uttered a great cry, pressed his sides violently with his hands, 
and rushed, a very madman, back to the house. In a moment 
every nerve in his body seemed to spring to life. Nothing could 
cross his vision without causing, him to start violently ; water gave 
him a terrible fright, and I beheld before me the first case of 
hydrophobia I have ever seen. For the next twenty-four hours 
I had no rest. He was removed to our own premises, to keep 
him from terrifying the lepers. He rapidly grew worse, and he 
who, but a few days previously, had been the best, quietest and 
most willing helper I had, became a raving maniac. A whole 
night of paroxysms preceded his death. ' I want to bite you,' 
was his frequent cry. All the native people fled, and I had to 
face him alone. The doctor did what could be done. Strange to 
say, though it is not strange to the disease, in the last hour of his 
life he was as quiet and reasonable as when in health, ' A 
little dog scratched my ear,' he said to me. On looking I saw the 
smallest of marks behind his right ear. He died quite suddenly 
whilst in the act of taking medicine." 

Our aim in establishing and carrying on the Home for Lepers 
in Mandalay is somewhat wide and far-reaching as a philanthropic 
enterprise : — 

1. To succour and provide for the wretched, helpless, outcast 

* It is an interesting illustration of the lights and shadows mingling 
in missionary life, that this journey to Rangoon Mr. Bestall speaks of, was 
to meet and bring home to Mandalay his bride, and it was this young lady's 
first introduction to the Home for Lepers, in company with her husband, 
that was marked by this tragic scene ! It is worthy of mention in this 
connection, that Mrs. Bestall, before going out to Burma, underwent a two- 
years' course of training in nursing and elementary medicine, in order to 
be more useful among the women and girls of Burma. 



lepers. We call this institution not a jail, nor an asylum, but a 
home ; and it is our constant endeavour to make it as much of 
a home to them as the sad circumstances will permit. That the 
lepers have taken to it is clear from the fact that there has only- 
been one case, since we commenced the work, in which there was 
a desire to live again the old mendicant life, and that was the 
case of a young leper gifted with a fair voice and able to make 
a good living outside. This speaks volumes, for there is no law 
either to compel them to come or to remain. It is clear that such 
a law is not needed. 

2. To offer the lepers the Gospel. Worship is held daily. No 
one is compelled to listen to it, or in any way pressed to accept 
the Gospel. It is believed they will gladly do so of themselves 
when they learn how merciful it is, and see illustrations of it in 
the Home. 

3. To segregate the lepers from the healthy population, and 
thus do what we can to stamp out the disease. Formerly it was 
impossible to prevent them from going about in the markets and 
other public places of resort, but there is no reason for allowing 
that, now there is a comfortable home provided for them. 

4. To rescue the children of leprous parents, removing them 
from the parents, with their consent, before they contract the 
disease; and to provide for them. What a blessed preventive 
work is this ! 

5. Lastly, to follow the example of our Master, who never 
came in contact with suffering but He relieved it ; and thus to 
give a worthy and consistent view of the true genius and spirit of 
the Christian religion to the tens of thousands of the heathen who 
throng around us. To them this Home for Lepers is an argument 
which they know how to appreciate, and it will not be lost upon 

Richard Baxter quaintly says : " As long as men have eyes as 
well as ears, they will think they see your meaning as well as 
hear it ; and of the two senses they are more likely to trust their 
eyes as being the more reliable sense of the two." So if we can 
let them see Christianity as well as hear it, we may hope that they 
will embrace it the sooner. No one knows philanthropy when he 


sees it better than a native of the East. Here, then, we trust 
there will always be Christianity writ large before their eyes. 

" Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of 
wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed 
go free, and that ye break every yoke ? 

" Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring 
the poor that are cast out to thy house ? when thou seest the 
naked, that thou cover him ; and that thou hide not thyself from 
thine own flesh ? 

" Then shall thy light bi'eak forth as the morning, and thine 
health shall spring forth speedily : and thy righteousness shall go 
before thee ; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. 

" Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer ; thou shalt 
cry, and He shall say, Here I am. . . . 

" And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the 
afflicted soul ; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy dark- 
ness be as the noonday : 

And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy 
soul in drought, and make fat thy bones : and thou shalt be like 
a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail 

" And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste 
places : thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations ; 
and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer 
of paths to dwell in." — Isa. Iviii. 6-12. 

With this divinely inspired encomium upon practical godliness, 
— the godliness that does something to make the world brighter 
and better around it, as distinguished fi'om the bare and empty 
profession, — I close this humble effort. 

The putting together of these chapters has been a labour of 
love, on behalf of the country and people I wish to serve, accom- 
plished with some difficulty, during the brief breathing spaces 
afforded in the intervals of a busy life, almost filled up with 
missionary advocacy, whilst on furlough in England, and in the 



hope of returning very shortly to Mandalay. I have here sought 
to give some information about a country mostly new to English 
people, rich in interest as regards its different races, their 
religions and customs, and the circumstances attending the first 
few years of British rule. Of British rule in the East I entertain 
a very high opinion as to its substantial justice, and its direct 
issue in the general well-being of the people. It ought to be the 
aim of every Christian amongst us to purge it of everything 
detrimental, and to make it all it should be. The responsibilities 
laid upon us as a people in this respect are very great. 

That Burma is destined to play an important part in the 
development and civilisation of the far East, there can 'be little 
doubt, now that our frontier is brought up to the confines of 
China, and that a railway is to be constructed from Mandalay 
through the northern Shan States, that will bring us within 
measurable distance of the great " Celestial Empire." It is of 
great importance that this development be not confined to mate- 
rial things, but that Britain employ her groat j^ower and in- 
fluence in the direction of everything that will uplift the nations, 
which Providence has so manifestly placed under her charge. 
Mission work amongst the Burman race may be slow ; humanly 
speaking, and judging by all former experience, it looks likely to 
be so. That, however, is not the fault of what is being done ; 
we may safely assert that much more might be done if the work 
were taken up in a more liberal and enterprising spirit. Are 
you, dear reader, doing your share ? 


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tCbe (Beneral Ib^mnar?. 

Containing 500 Hymns and Eight Canticles, for Mission and Special Services. 

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